We keep our snow shovel at the back door well into April for the spontaneous snowfalls that often appear until May. (We have several yards to walk to get to our garage.) This year, however, we have not retired the shovel as we anticipate the Great Storm of Cicadas about to arrive in mid-May. The purpose of the shovel is to pick up shovelfuls of the expired bugs instead of walking on them making for really messy shoes. In the evenings, we will hose them onto the grass and sweep them from our porches.
Most people consider this amazing natural event of every 17 years a nuisance, hardly a wonder. But I encourage you to take the Great Storm in stride, nature’s way of coughing up a bug to clear the throat. A bit of respiratory cleansing, one might say.
A foremost authority on cicadas is entomologist, Dr. Gene Kritsky, of Mount Saint Joseph University in Cincinnati where I am a board member. Kritsky has set up an app for citizen scientists to help gather photographs and to record cicadas for inclusion on the cicada map. This information helps Kritsky and other scientists determine what is happening under the earth as well as what is happening to the cicadas who, by the way, have been following this schedule for a mere several thousand years.
According to Kritsky, billions of cicadas will start popping up in 15 states, including major cities, from mid-May to the end of June with a condensed presence in northern Midwestern states, especially Indiana. I don’t mean to scare anyone but a little Schreckstoff, is as good for your blood flow as a cardio workout! For instance, wear a cap outside. (I had a few fly or drop onto my bead and one got stuck because of hair spray!) Watch where you walk. Don’t leave the picnic potato salad uncovered. Cicadas fly to tree branches and drop from them!
Some interesting facts are: Only the males do the humming which can get to 100 decibels, “like a motorcycle warming up next to you,” says Kritsky. Cicadas do not sting or bite humans, are not poisonous and do not carry diseases. They are food for many predators and even curious humans. As such, they are excellent sources of protein. They incubate as nymphs for 17 years underground and become adults as they emerge. Their life cycle continues for about six weeks in which they sing, mate, discharge their eggs in slits they make in tree branches, and then die. Pesticides are not effective on them because they are not pests.
I say give these guys a chance. First of all, they are not locusts, the harbingers of heavenly wrath as described in the Bible, especially in Exodus. No, they are sleepy followers of the instinct God gave them and fully compliant within the limits they live by. They humbly fulfill the plan of nature, even if they annoy us for a short time every 17 years.
With this attitude, we might find it easy to love nature and animals and insects, easier sometimes than our fellow human beings. But try to put it all in perspective. Think about the persons who most annoy you. Why do they annoy you? Do they even know they have this power over you? The popular Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, promoted the Metta Lovingkindness Prayer.
Very simply, breathe in and out slowly, put two fingers to your lips and think of that annoying person. Then put the fingers on your heart and say, “May he/she be safe and protected.”
Do this everyday and at some point you will find peace settling into your heart and soul about this person. And I think it might even work in regard to annoying cicadas!!!
To all my Readers and Anonymous Angels who send me notes: I love you! Please continue to read this blog and share it with others, and do not hesitate to give me ideas to write about.
Check out the site: cicada safari.org and by all means, google cicada.
You will be surprised at what you will learn. Have fun with this. And get your brooms and shovels ready!