rik-rat corn pile

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Seventeen Year Cicada and how a bug can make me yearn for my childhood.

It is loud outside. Like, louder than I would expect a plague of horny cicadas to be. Loud like an army of maracas rattling in the trees. There are so many cicadas it's almost biblical. I have always been completely fascinated by these noisy creatures, here's why.

1. They have the coolest larval stage ever (i have no idea if that is the correct term to use for a cicada before it becomes a winged creature...nymph stage, maybe?). They live in the ground for 17 years and when they emerge they look like little clawed tanks. They remind me of the bugs from the movie Starship Troopers.  Enjoy this clip:

2. Our dog, Mudd, looks hilarious when he chases them. My first dog, Ryder (*pours a 40 on the curb* I miss you!), loved to eat them. It was also hilarious. The sound of a toothless cocker spaniel gumming crunchy bugs is a sound not to be missed.  Side note: cicadas are not poisonous, a dog can totally eat them...just not too many coz their exoskeletons are hard to digest.

3.  My first cicada experience was at the Brookfield zoo.  It was hot when the plague peaked and the zoo was a madhouse.  Cicadas everywhere, screaming/freaked out kids running in circles/stomping bugs, stressed out parents and camp counselors everywhere.  A madhouse.  I didn't even care about the gorilla house or the lions.  I just wanted to count cicadas.  It was the first time I felt awestruck by something.

4.  Those red eyes?  So excellent.  And some of the other kinds have cool camouflaged backs.  Damn, do these things look cool.

5.  The shells are interesting and I always regret not collecting them for something art related.  sigh.

6.  When I was little the kids on the block would play a cicada related game.  If you saw one that looked dead you would dare your friend to pick it up.  If it was dead the game was over and if it wasn't dead the sudden BUUUUZZZZZZZZ was enough to make a kid shit their pants.  It was a fun game.  Kind of like kiddie-russian roulette.
omg.  how embarrassing.  you can still see the arrow from my screenshot.  too lazy to crop today.  sorry!
the 17 year cicadas are small.  whirlybird tree seed for scale.

A cicada that recently emerged from it's shell.  man, they are completely fascinating.
I've always enjoyed these creatures.  Yesterday I spent five minutes staring at a tree just so I could watch the swarm buzz and fly through the branches....there were so many of them.  The sound was deafening and the visuals were awesome.