Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Excited Anticipation

For the first time in many months, since my health dramas hit, I've found a cool diversion that should appear any day now.

The so-called 17-year locusts are coming!  Billions of them will be clawing up through soil that has held them dormant for the past 17 years.  Why they hang out underground for so long is a mystery to me.  However, their sole purpose, once they emerge, will be to find mates to procreate.

I clearly remember the last time these cool/creepy looking insects "visited" our region.  They are so hot to trot that they will fly right into people and objects in their frantic search for sexual release.  Their urgent, boisterous mating calls become a solid wall of inescapable, constant buzzing.  To my ears it sounds just like the tinnitus I hear all the time, except louder.
Photo: Seventeen-year cicada or periodical locust
Cicadas emerge from the ground as larva. They soon grab onto a tree or any other rough surface to shed their skins and free their transparent wings.  As a kid, living in the Midwest, my playmates and I spent hours trying to collect the most shells.  The sharp claws left on the shells made it possible for us to wear them on our clothing -- something we thought was truly awesome.

One benefit of this 17-year appearance is aerating the soil.  Millions of 1/2 to 1 inch holes open up as the cicadas emerge from the ground, allowing rain to reach deeper into the soil.  That's my theory anyway, and I'm sticking by it.

For those who dislike stepping on their crunchy bodies or being smacked in the face by one clumsily flying in search of love, remember that they've been without everything for 17 years and won't be around for long.  So enjoy the red-eyed, gossamer-winged critters for what they are: a miracle of nature.

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