Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Night of the Cicadas

    Writing has been tough lately due to the constant car alarm hum of 17 year cicadas. I remember my best friend and I about 6 years old walking my Ohio neighborhood with a brown paper bag and filling it with shells. With that memory in mind, I have had my girls out exploring the cicadas.
Cicada lifecycle in
my backyard
       We found our first nymph emerging from the ground during the search for a bug to put in the bug playground. (If you aren't familiar with the "bug playground," it's a plastic dome with a little ramp for bugs to walk on. It's basically like having your own coliseum with really tiny lions.)
       "I don't want that bug, it's too ugly!" my 5yo cried.
       "Well, it's going to come out of its shell and be like a butterfly. Well, an ugly butterfly." That was the clincher - anything nearly like a butterfly is good enough for her. We put the nymph in our butterfly cage, but I'm afraid that didn't turn out well. To which my daughter in true Veruca fashion says "This one's dead. I want another one!!!"  We tried it again with similar results and thus abandoned the idea of emergence in captivity.
      About a week later, I saw one emerging from its shell on the shed. Then I saw one which had already emerged. Then I saw another and another. I realized I was surrounded and the feeling went from exhilaration to ewww. "Maybe we should go inside," I said to the girls. But with each step I heard the crunch of nymphs and shells under foot. 
       After giving the cicadas a few days to head into the trees, we returned to the yard. We started picking up shells, which is quite satisfying- like an Easter Egg hunt for brown eggs with creepy legs. We also found cicadas made lovely (in the way you would call Frankenstein lovely) pets. They are content to hang out on your hand especially if you make a loud whirring sound (there's always a sound coming from my kids).        
      We watched with amusement/horror as squirrels picked up cicadas and ate them like corn on the cob. They don't seem to have a taste for the heads and wings, because those are abandoned everywhere. The wings do have a delightful sparkle, and my 5yo amazed me by tossing a handful in the air creating the grossest appendage confetti ever.
       Not to be outdone, my 3yo picked up a cicada and said "I'm going to kiss him." To which I said "Huh, what was that?" Sure enough she put that cicada right up to her tiny lips and gave him a big smooch. Then she did it again.
     The cicada song is beginning to quiet and though I’ll miss shaking branches at the playground to make the cicadas chase the kids, I'm happy to write in peace. Which I'm going to do just as soon as I sweep all the carcasses off the porch...

Have you had any run ins with nature lately?

20 comments:

  1. Thankfully, we have been spared the cicadas in our yard. However, yesterday I parked my car and stupidly left the windows down. Rookie move during cicada season. When I returned, I was greeted by a large, nasty, furry, dark blue mass with wings on the edge of the driver's seat. I can still hear the buzzing in my ear. On a happier nature note, my lillies are coming in beautifully this year !

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    1. Crazy lady! You can't leave your windows down. In addition to being loud and flying in an erratic way, cicadas are also known car jackers.

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  2. When I lived in New England, I loved writing at dusk to the sound of the peepers. A melodious, almost hymnal sound. Here in the SF bay area, I just open the windows at 5:30 a.m. and listen to the birds awaken with their song, as I begin to type on my keys.

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    1. I adore the birds chatting over coffee in the morning, and peepers provide lovely dinner conversation. The cicadas are more like a teenage heavy metal band practicing all day in the garage next door.

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  3. So that's what a cicada looks like! I have very limited bug knowledge because I simply avoid them as much as possible. But the appendage confetti...as funny as that sounds, that just tops off the gross meter!

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    1. Cicada confetti is at once delightful and horrifying.

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  4. Interesting. I am not a HUGE fan of bugs (51% creep me out), and cicada nymphs aren't up there. I am afraid of those pincers... *shudder*

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    1. They just look life threatening! Cicadas are really very kind and docile, like I imagine a pet brontosaurus would be.

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  5. I remember the sound of those on holiday in Spain. Didn't kiss any, that's funny.

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    1. Kissing a bug just doesn't spring to me as a normal activity. Not to say my little girl isn't "normal," but she really strikes out on her own path!

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  6. Christie JungbluthJune 22, 2013 at 10:55 AM

    I remember our hunts for bug bodies, something that would completely creep me out now! Glad they didn't come here.

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    1. Yay! My BFF is here! No freaking way - seriously you would be too creeped out to pick up bugs? You were the Queen of the Tomboys! And your daughter is the perfect age for her first bug kiss!

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  7. Go squirrels! I wonder if there is a corresponding increase in squirrel waistlines during the cicada boom years?

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    1. You would think, right? I'm going to try to catch some squirrels for measurements. I have noticed the baby chipmunks are coming out this week and they look very healthy.

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  8. Lauri, You made me laugh! Very funny about the squirrels! And I can jump imagine the creepy crunching!

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    1. I wouldn't have even noticed squishing most likely, well until I saw the bottom of my shoes, but the sound of crunching was shocking surprise I would prefer not to repeat.

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  9. So that's why my squirrels look so fat and happy! Come to think of it, my birds also look like they could stand a few sessions on the nordic track.

    And, what are you waiting for? Dish! Are cicadas good kissers?

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    1. If you built a mini nordic track and put it in your backyard and squirrels started using it, I would pay admission to come see it. I imagine Lucy the Rat would be working the ticket booth laughing all the way to the bank.

      As far as romance gossip, I heard from Chelsea who heard from Anna who heard from Jaden whose cousin from Long Island's babysitter said that cicadas have bad breath! OMG! Can you believe it?! I would totally make a cicada mouthwash first. For reals.

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  10. This is totally grossing me out!! But, I have to admit, as a kid I would LOVE to find cicada shells and save them. I must be getting squeamish in my old age. ;)

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    1. I think that's because you're old enough to wonder if your kid is going to lick them which puts everything in a new light.

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