The Magical Magicicada Brood II

Some women may look at the cicada which resembles a bug-eyed steroid-enhanced ginormous housefly and shiver, maybe even squeal.  Like a girl.  I don't.  A lot of that has to do with the numerous entomology lessons I received from my cousin Sandy when I was a kid.  She turned the creepy-crawly bug into a fascinating adventure into the art of adaptation.  Insects are amazing.  This particular 17 year Magicicada (yeah, that's their Latin name because scientists know they're magical) emergence is one of the greatest examples of the awesomeness of the insect world.  Allow me to share with you my insights and maybe if you see one of these little guys hanging around your house you'll be able to view them with the same awe and respect that I do.

For those that aren't aware, this particular brood has been underground for seventeen years.  That's a helluva long time to just be hanging out underground, waiting for an internal clock to go off and tell you it's time to burrow out and multiply en masse.  Seventeen years ago I was in Middle School, hadn't even gone through puberty yet.  Now I have three children, the eldest of which is nearly nine, and a husband.  Roads were laid, houses built, whole developments thrown together, shopping malls erected... some of it unearthing or blocking these nymphs from making that climb back to the open air.  Who knows how many burrowed up after 17 long years to be met with someone's basement or a parking lot.  Additionally we had tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, wars, terrorist attacks, pollution, floods... still, those cicadas were under the ground just waiting for the proper time.  Still, those cicadas were numerous enough to produce the staggering amounts I see in my neighborhood.

They are everywhere, in every form, turning the ground into swiss cheese as they come out in droves.  My kids are getting the science lesson of a lifetime without having to wait, bearing witness to every insect stage all at once.  They are ecstatic!  We have already collected shed skins and make daily tallies of the adults we can see.  Bonus points if you can find an emerging nymph or an adult in mid-shed!  We seek them out while we wait for the bus and are never disappointed.  They are on cars, trash cans, mailboxes, driveways... everywhere you look!  Some of the trees in our neighborhood are so covered in cicada skins that we stop counting and just stare.  We also enjoy listening to their symphony at night, imagining how many cicadas there must be to produce such a loud song!

Scientists can't figure out why they wait for 17 years, while other cicadas are out there every year singing us to sleep.  Some broods wait for 13 years... why the odd numbers?  They have no idea.  The unknowns are the most fascinating pieces to me.  The only real answer is "because that's just what they do", that's what Mother Nature or God or the Universe made happen.  Flippin' fascinating!!  They do it because they are supposed to and Nature never fails to follow its own rules.  We have only speculations and beliefs as to who or what wrote those rules.  As I see it, nature and its rules are our largest connection to what we each conceive God to be.  I see it all happening, and I feel connected.

Cicadas may not be the most attractive things on the planet, but try looking at them more closely.  Don't see sticky legs or bulging eyes.  Look at their bright coloring.  Look at the intricacy of their wings.  Listen to their song.  Admire their persistence and the mysteries they hold.  Marvel at their numbers!  Be in awe of them because you have absolutely no control over them, and allow yourself that reminder.  Nature should be revered because we're all part of it and should respect that we're allowed to exist with so many amazing and beautiful things we don't fully understand.  We're not better, we're just different.  I think these insects are awesome and I'm thankful I happen to live here, at the proper time, to be privy to this event.  I look at the USA and I look at the cicada map and I feel so fortunate to live in this tiny area that gets to experience this!

So, there you have it.  I hope you enjoyed my hippie science lesson.  Maybe you can appreciate these guys too now ;)  If you still aren't seeing it maybe this video will help!
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