What’s the Buzz?

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Depending upon your perspective, you are either lucky enough or unlucky enough to be in the middle of an insect invasion. If you aren’t familiar, these particular cicadas have decided their best chance to reproduce and live on is to flood the zone every so often producing enough insects that some will survive. The odd thing is that these things only show up every 17 years so the last time they were above ground was 2004. OK, the ones that were around in 2004 don’t come back but the eggs they laid that sat underground for 17 years have now brought forth an almost biblical plague of cicadas.

Yep, we are one of those blue dots!

It is an interesting survival method. I mean you have to count on the world remaining unchanged for 17 years. Well at least that part of the world you popped up in. I can’t imagine how many woodlots have been cleared and turned into office parks which would spell the end for any cicadas lingering underground. I kind of hate to think of one trying to emerge and running into a layer of concrete.

On the other hand, you think about how far back they go. Every 17 years since when – the dawn of time (probably not that far back), they just resurface. I don’t know what the traveling radius of a cicada is and if they move if they pop up and don’t find things to their liking. But I think about the dirt around our place having cicadas in it going back I don’t know how many years.

I can’t imagine what it would have been like to be a new settler to an area and then have one year when the woods are full of insects and the sound is deafening. Probably did bring up images of the biblical plague. After seeing one, you probably expect it the next year and then you get nothing. So you likely forget all about them until 17 years go by and here they come again.

To me, as far as bugs go, they fall towards the acceptable looking edge of the scale. Let’s face it, in the insect world, butterflies are really the only attractive species. I think bumblebees are kind of cool and there are some interesting beetles but most insects are just ugly. These guys do have the big orange bug eyes which are creepy but when the light hits the orange line in their wings just right, they aren’t totally displeasing to the eye.

They are all over the trees in and around our yard. You can sit on the deck and just watch them fly around and you lose count rather quickly. They don’t seem to be the sharpest tools in the shed so they fly kind of randomly and that means sooner or later one is going to land on you. Just happens. Haven’t had any land on my head which would be kind of gross but have had a couple perch on my shirt for a few seconds.

With the sheer numbers, they can afford to lose quite a few and they don’t live that long as adults so, as we are about in the middle of the emergence, the bodies are starting to pile up. When we went to the turtle pond, there were several that had landed in the water and were thrashing around because they couldn’t fly away (told you they don’t seem that smart). I’ll admit it was sad to see but there was no way to mount a rescue mission.

I did have to “save” one this morning. When some flying thing lands on you, sometimes, your first instinct is to just slap it away. I did that and the thing landed on its back. I’ve heard they can’t turn over when they do that so it was just on the ground flapping its wings and probably wondering why nothing was happening. I was at a gas station at the time and so I got a paper towel for it to climb on and then brought it over to the nearest tree where it flew away. I know it is just a bug but I felt guilty for putting him in that predicament. He didn’t mean any harm and I just hated to think about him (or her I suppose) lying there unable to do anything.

The biggest thing is the noise. Just for fun, I downloaded a decibel meter on my phone and they clocked in at just over 80 right outside the house. That’s the equivalent of a vacuum cleaner so just imagine someone running a vacuum all day long. My friend recorded over 90 near her house and I saw where they can go louder than that.

We took a walk today in a park we typically visit on Sundays. It is about 8 miles from here through what used to be all farmland and is now mixed houses and farmland. Part of the area is wooded but there were no cicadas at all. We both noted how quiet it was. There were birds but not the constant background buzzing we have around here. Funny thing here is that our birds have kind of vanished. We don’t see or hear as many. Maybe they don’t like the buzzing either. But it was interesting how much difference just a few miles could make.

Now I know they’ve studied this brood to death and it has become sort of a thing because I think it is the largest. You can even buy cicada merchandise if you are so inclined. A lot of times when something becomes a thing, it loses my interest but that hasn’t happened yet. I kind of think a t shirt might be a fun thing to buy. Who would ever think of commemorating an insect invasion.

When they finally die off, it will be like the movie cliche. “It quiet. Yeah, too quiet”. I do know they can damage younger trees so this isn’t totally harmless. And some would find this annoying so to each their own. Me, I just think it is fascinating and it is kind of fun to be in the middle.

After all, who knows what the world will be like in 2038 when they return again.

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