Monday, May 17, 2004

Got bugs?

Well, they're here! Billions and billions of red-eyed, six-legged, winged... bugs! I'm talking about the cicadas, of course. Our area is home to the Brood X periodical cicadas (the largest and loudest cicada brood in the world) and they've been big news here for several weeks (featured in the papers several times a week, on TV, watercooler conversations, at the playgroup, etc) even though they really didn't start emerging until last week. This particular brood of bugs has been living contentedly underground for the past 17 years, but now they're feeling that undeniable itch to mate. And that means they have to leave their comfortable subterranean lairs and burrow their way out into the warm sunlight where they will climb the nearest trees and bushes to do their thing.

I've been looking forward to their emergence for a while. It's kind of nostalgic, for me. You see, the last time these cicadas crawled out of the ground, I was just graduating from high school. Ah, those glorious days of '87!


OK, actually I just think it's kind of cool to be able to witness something so unique in nature. And this time I'll get to share it with my kids! You know, kids and bugs just go together! And these cicadas are pretty buggy looking; kind of a bug's bug.

I was feeling a bit left out with all the other cicada sightings around the area the last week or so, but yesterday evening I finally found some nymphs climbing up one of the trees in our front yard. I grabbed a couple pics of them (here and here) with the digital camera, but haven't introduced them to my children yet. I want them to shed their skins and become full adults first (the bugs, not my kids - I'd like my kids to keep their skin intact, thank you) which should happen shortly. I don't know how many we'll have in our yard (I've heard there can be as many as 1.5 million per acre - we have about 1/4 acre) but I'm sure our kids will find them fascinating. Maybe our trees will look like this in a few days!

And you just have to check out Cicada Mania! They have cicada FAQ, t-shirts, and even a cicada wedding guide!