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  • Writer's picturemaggiehsmith07

Night of the Living Cicadas

In 1990, periodical cicada’s emerged in Illinois in full force. In the northern half of the state of Illinois, these bug-eyed creatures emerge every 17 years. So the time they emerged prior to this, I had not yet emerged.

I detest most bugs and I detest cicada’s more than I detested other bugs. They are fairly large – according to the National Geographic they vary in size from 0.75 inches to 2.25 inches. 2.25 inches. Dear God.

I recall watching the news in horror as people in the Chicago-land area shoveled their driveways to clear them of cicada carcasses. I was 16 the summer of the cicada and I am sure I tried to stay inside as much as possible, but my parents seemed nonplussed by the raging infestation, so they made me go places that summer. Two places were my grandma’s house and the zoo - - both a few towns over from where we lived, closer to Chicago. Ironically, although our town was surrounded by farm country, places closer to the city were really hit hard.

Why I fell for a trip to the zoo during that cicada summer is beyond me. I can only assume it was because the cicada situation wasn’t so bad in my town. This was not the case for Brookfield, Illinois, which was approximately 31 miles away. My high school boyfriend joined us on our zoo outing. We foolishly stood under a tree watching some demonstration. While standing there, I felt a gentle, “plop” onto my head. My hand instinctively raised to my head and I felt one or two cicadas in my Aqua Netted hair.

I let out a blood curdling scream and began ferociously brushing at my head.

“Margaret!” My mom sternly admonished me for the scene I was creating while my hapless boyfriend (HBF) tried not to laugh while attempting to evict the interlopers from my hair. My dad had a bemused expression. Hilarious, guys. Thankfully, HBF was a foot taller than I was so this gave him prime viewing to the cicada party on my head allowing him to successfully remove the offenders.

Cicada’s emerge from the ground once the temperature reaches 65 degrees at 8-inches of depth. This is like a horror movie! They are encased in a little shell that they scratch and claw their way out of (or something), leaving the shell behind to engage in a cacophony of buzzing to attract a mate (which is their sole reason for emerging – and to terrorize me). Let me tell you – cicadas are not an attractive bug. Perhaps they are attractive to one another? Cicadas have bug eyes that are RED. Like Satan. Some have blue, yellow or white eyes which are no less terrifying. See below for proof of their satanic eyeballs and creepy look. Imagine these IN YOUR HAIR?!?!

It’s reported that the buzzing of cicada’s can reach 90 decibels, which is “as loud as a dirt bike or a lawnmower”. So – basically, the cicada’s get it on. And they don’t give a shit about privacy - they are operating on borrowed time! So – you may be walking down your grandma’s driveway and there they are, mounting one another in your path. My mom acted like this was supposed to make me feel better – like they cared more about getting it on than destroying my life. Clearly, she was wrong. See Exhibit A above, hereafter referred to as “Zoo Incident of 1990”. Once the cicada’s get it on, lady cicada cuts a slit into tree bark (I don’t know how this is done but I assume she’s armed with a DANGEROUS pocket knife) to lay their eggs in and then, thank the good lord, the cicada’s (the one’s who came out and got it on) die and people like me breathe easier. BUT – have no fear, the eggs hatch and the creepy newborns burrow into the soil for another 17 years. Horror. Movie.

Why does any of this ancient history from 1990 matter? Aside from the fact I am clearly scarred for life, it’s important because “Brood IX” is emerging SOON. And in VIRGINIA! Because of this pandemic (clearly, this is end times people. The PLOGS!) scientists cannot do field work so there an app called Cicada Safari has been launched so that you can help them with this by logging where you see these guys emerge. You can even load a photo or video. Of course I downloaded the app because I want advance warning of their emergence in the area. I’m sorry to report that there have been sightings in Roanoke which is an hour from where we live. 45 users in Roanoke are uploading photos and videos of the beginning of the end. Photos of large, bug eyed creatures with large wings and satanic eyes. Oh! And by the way – they cannot fly well so their attempts can result in them lurching into you.

Today, I again discussed the cicada’s with Andrea who threatened to delete the app from my phone. Knowledge is power and she will later thank me because let me tell you, if one of these suckers plops into her hairdo, she’s on her own. She’s playing it cool.

“We could use our leaf blower to blow the cicadas into the trench behind our house!” Andrea suggests.

“You can…” I say, not bothering to tell her this will not stop them. They will claw their way back up the hill like zombies in a horror movie.

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