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January 15, 2007

Something I wrote back in 1996

Filed under: Magicicada — Dan @ 8:35 pm

This is from my site, back in 1996. I’m just cutting and pasting it in — I’m scared to read it again.

Humor: The 17-Year Cicada

Every 17 years a fearsome biological monstrosity drags its way to the surface of the earth. It comes only to mate and spawn; however, it imparts terror and disgust in the hearts and minds of every man, woman, child and beast unfortunate enough to cross its path. This is no Hollywood fantasy, ladies and gentlemen, this creature is real, horribly real! Cast your trembling eyes upon mother nature’s most disturbing insectoid aberration…

The Cicada a.k.a. “The 17-Year Locust”

Seriously folks, the cicada isn’t a locust, it’s, well, a cicada (a member of the homoptera order of insects). These charming creatures are best known for their intense mating call, which sounds more or less like a lawn sprinkler, or a miniature AH-64 Apache Black Helicopter. When 10,000 or so of these suckers start screaming in your neighborhood you’ll think you’re in the middle of Apocalypse Now. Now is the time! Depending on where you live, these heinous herbivores should be dive-bombing your friends and family any day now. RootsuckerActually, they are more likely to fall out of a tree than fly, but, rest assured, they will be landing somewhere on your body sometime soon.

I live in central New Jersey and right now we are up to our mandibles in a plague of these sap slurping oddities. Some breeds, including the green/yellow striped cicadas, rear their ugly heads every year, but, fortunately not in great numbers. The “periodic”, black bodied, red eyed, spawn of Beelzebub cicadas only present themselves once every 17 years; unfortunately there are literally millions of them. Worst of all, they have a face, just like you or me!

Periodic cicadas live to be 17 years old (13 years in southern states), which means they’re the only insect that qualifies for a driver’s license in New Jersey. Actually these creatures only spend two to four weeks of their lives as an adult. They spend the first 17 years underground sucking on roots! Exciting! Once the adults have mated, the female drills a hole in a tree branch with her butt (technically her ovipositor) and lays her eggs. The eggs soon hatch and the “nymphs” fall to the ground where they feed on root sap. As soon as the adults mate they croak and drop to the ground where they will decay and stink. If I were you I wouldn’t hang out under any trees this year. In the end, your best offense will be a shovel and a bucket, or, a hungry golden retriever.

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