20 Founder’s Forum: Cicada Summer, A Needed Distraction

JB Lester The Healthy Planet

By J.B. Lester

With all that is going in the world right now, wars, climate disasters, former president on trial, it is a welcomed relief that we can all be talking about the cicada invasion. The sounds of these buzzing insects, along with the twinkling of fireflies, are normally the harbingers of summer. Only this year it appears we are in for an overwhelming invasion of this periodic brood of red-eyed chirpers. I for one, don’t mind it a bit. They are coming up out of the ground faster than earthworms on a rainy day. They appear so menacing and yet they don’t bite, pinch or sting. They are just following their life cycle and hope they are not too admonished along the way. Our playground set in the backyard is covered with these glossy-winged creatures. They don’t seem to fly much but when they do, they usually land on a nearby tree or bush. They will climb up somewhere where they will chirp and buzz and eventually lay eggs and the cycle will begin again.

These cyclic visitors are a welcome distraction from our everyday drudges. They don’t like all the rain we are getting either. I am sure they prefer their wings dry. They are front page news and merit a two -minute segment on the local tv news. Even our local Conservation Department columnist is writing about them. They create the kind of news that takes the Trump trial and the wars around the world off our minds, even for a moment or two. We needed this cicada invasion right now. You can always count on Mother Nature to remind us that we are not the only species on Earth that demands attention. Sometimes it takes trillions of reminders of this oft forgotten fact. The birds are glad the cicada are here as they help supplement their menu selection.

My 4 1/2-year-old grandson Joey was abolutely mesmerized by them during a Mother’s Day picnic in the park. He couldn’t stop talking about the cicadas on the tree next to our blanket. He asked more questions than I could answer. He was thrilled to have them alongside us and showed no fear at all. His little sister Vivi loves to collect the shells and carry them around. I find cicadas a bit creepy, but I am 72. I am glad the younger, younger generation has more tolerance for “creepy” than I apparently do. I respect cicada, and understand their plight, but those red eyes and spiny legs… and if you pick them up, they buzz like a smart phone on vibrate. 

As I said before, this is the diversion we needed this summer. It will be all the talk, I am sure. Maybe we can forget about some of our other troubles and focus on cicadas, and the struggles they face as heavy rain pours down on them as they emerge waterlogged from the ground after 13 years. Oh, and we will see some of the 17-year brood, too, in our area. I know it is an election year, and the political hype is rampant, but it is good to know that not one of the trillions of cicadas in our country gives a hoot. Maybe a buzz or chirp, but not a hoot. Enjoy this cicada summer, it will be a while before you see these broods again