“They’re hereeeee!” The ominous-sounding Brood X has arrived in our neighborhood! But first, a flashback:
When I was 15, I took a cross-country trip. We stopped to make sandwiches at a park in Amarillo, Texas. Two things: first, that was where I met my lifelong pen pal Judy; second, there was an incredibly loud buzz in the air, which I assumed was some kind of electrical problem. It was deafening, and kind of scary. Was a transformer tower about to blow and electrocute us?
Fortunately, I survived. And I now live in Cincinnati, Ohio. Two things: Judy and I are still pen pals (only we now use that newfangled “Facebook” doohickey). Second, as of this week, we now live with the source of that mysterious “electrical” buzz: cicadas! This is our first time, so you might call us cicadal virgins.
And so are the cicadas, for that matter.
Brood X, in less science-fiction-sounding terms, simply means group #10 of a unique genus called “magicicadas.” What makes them so magicadal? Think Greek! Virginal cicada “nymphs” live underground for 17 years. And then, upon hearing some magical genetic siren call, they all (all as in billions) climb up out of the soil, shed their skins, and grow bulgy red eyes and leaded-glass wings.
Why? So they can fly up into the trees and await the Bacchanalian ritual to come! During the next few weeks, “our” cicadas will shed their virginity in a perfectly choreographed ritual, producing the next generation of nymphs. They’ll also produce a deafening mating “song” that is nearly identical to the sound of a lawnmower. Which is why, I’m told, I may want to wear my COVID mask while mowing in order to avoid unwanted amorous encounters.
We’ve opened our front door every morning this week to find thousands of discarded skins (exoskeletons) on our front porch and in our yard. And we’ve watched in fascination as these newly-bewinged love bugs make their way up the trees!
Cicadas aren’t subtle. You wouldn’t be either if your entire life consisted of waiting for one moment of perfect bliss. Come to think of it, that’s what I was like at 17.
And I was nearly as loud.
I’m already looking forward to June, when our lightning bugs emerge with their little love-butts aglow.
Ah, summer romance!