30 May 2007

Cicadas

A friend recently commented, in an email sent to several people spread out around the country:

So the cicadas have made their return to the Chicago area, these gross-looking insects that descend on the area every 17 years. But they are really starting to freak me out for a multitude of reasons. First, they tend to only come out at night so when I'm walking my dog, I'm finding myself inadvertently crushing one of the 100s of cicadas covering the sidewalks. Then last week, I got in my car in the early evening and had to wait for a large gathering of Lake Michigan seagulls to clear out the way--they were feasting on the cicadas.

What's bizarre is that 17 years ago, I spent the summer in Chicago and had this same perspective on cicadas. They were obnoxious, and the low hum made it nearly impossible to sleep (particularly since it was so hot, and I was a starving student lacking A/C, so the windows were open all night).

The cicadas haven't arrived here yet (about 90 minutes south of my friend's neighborhood), but I must admit that I'm actually looking forward to when they come out from their long hibernation. Our large flock of free range ducks stays out all night, and I can already picture them working their way across the field feasting on these nasty critters. And then, when the laying hens come pouring out of the hen house first thing in the morning, they'll clean up all the cicadas the ducks didn't get to. Heck, I may be able to stop giving the birds supplemental feed.

Of course, the droning hum may have me singing a different tune after awhile. We still don't have air conditionning, and it'll be interesting to see how loud those cicadas will get. Not to mention the sounds of duck bills crushing lots of little bug bodies...

2 comments:

John Cosgrove said...

And I may be spreading them about the city! They have been confined to the south side so far but two rode along on my windshield wipers up to the north side of Chicago to work yesterday!

Danby said...

Cicadas don't invade, they metamorphose. The live as grubs deep in the soil. Every 17 years (for your variety) they all mature at once, breed, lay their eggs in the ground, and die. Moving two bugs will make no real difference for another 17 years.

Here in the far West, there are a few varieties of cicadas, and there is rarely a summer without some, although most are on a three year cycle