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Ugly Buggers.

June 18, 2008

This summer has become the Summer of the Cicada, at least here in Lexington.

I have never seen such a thick infestation of these insects in my lifetime. Growing up in Maryland, I remember many cicada seasons… I would collect the shells and watch the giant bugs crawl and bumble around. One year I remember thinking that I had “trained” one or two of them, and a friend and I were going to start a Cicada Circus. [It would have been a lively affair, mostly involving one cicada walking from one end of a stick to the other. Really remarkable stuff.] And I definitely remember listening to the unique noise that they make.

But back then — even during one of the “big years” when there was a large brood of them hitting that 13 or 17 year cycle that I had always heard about — I never recall having to bat them away from my face as I was walking through the park. I don’t think I ever had to watch where I was about to sit down for fear of crushing several of the little buggers. And I definitely do not remember having to raise my voice so that the person I was standing 3 feet away from could hear what I had to say above the deafening “cicada song.”

In Maryland, we always just called them “locusts” (even though we knew they were not true locusts), and they were quite large. I seem to remember the ones in Bethesda being a bit larger/longer than the red-eyed uglies that I’ve been seeing around here the past couple weeks. And the ones I grew up with made some noise, but it was more of a slow-building whirrrrrrrrr that rose and crested and subsided like large waves in the ocean. The variety in Lexington has a high pitched song that builds rapidly, and the insects hold out their “notes” for a much, much longer time.

Wikipedia offers this bit of info: “Cicadas do not bite or sting, are benign to humans, and are not considered pests.” Oh, but I beg to differ! Our nearby public park is lousy with these guys. On a recent trip to the park to watch one of my son’s baseball games, we spent the hours picking cicadas off our shirts, pants, hats, faces, food, seats, etc. I would definitely use the term “pest” to describe them. Big, noisy, bumbling, ugly PESTS.

Brody thinks the bugs are quite a delicacy, and he catches and eats them every chance he gets. Which is pretty often. Maybe we can cut back on his dog food…

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One comment

  1. Yuck. I do remember the summer of 1969 in Bethesda, when they would come down the fireplace to get into the living room, and walking you around the block in your stroller, I could not avoid stepping on lots of them. But they were not red-eyed, and I don’t remember having to swat them off my clothes. Well, you just have to wait it out – they will be gone in a month or so…..



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