Saturday, May 14, 2011

The One About Pestilence


The brood has emerged.

It started (at my house anyway) about 6 days ago. I figured something was amiss when my dog wouldn't come in the house after nearly an hour. She's a "take care of business as quickly as possible and go back in the house for a treat" kind of dog. So when she wouldn't come in the other night, I thought she was just trying to get The Mole. When I went out to coax her inside, she was frantically nosing about the grass while chewing. Yes, freshly emerged cicada larvae. So so nasty.

There is such a thing as too many cicadas, just like there can be too much of a good thing. If a dog eats too many (of anything), nature takes over and assists the dog in getting rid of whatever it is there is too much of. Nature usually prefers that this happen on a rug. so nasty.

For those of you unfamiliar with the nasty little red-eyed buggers, they emerge every 13 years. Seriously. I can't make this up, and it is as nasty and disgusting as it sounds. They come out of the ground in a more or less larval-looking stage. They move pretty slowly, hence the ability of a household pet to easily over indulge. The larvae that are lucky enough to be spared the digestive tract of my dog, climb up trees, walls, telephone poles, plants, anything vertical and shed this brown crusty looking shell. I think it's called an exoskeleton. I call it disgusting. The newly emerged cicadas hang out for a while on the tree, pole, house, whatever, until the time suits them and they start screeching and flying about. Then they eat. I guess they eat leaves and such, but they're not like locusts that decimate all vegetation. (The only good thing about this whole cicada business.) So after they get done eating, they mate. Yahoo. I pray to God that I never witness this act because I'm sure that after 13 years underground it's rather frantic. Can you imagine? When the mating is over they ladies chew little nests into small tree branches and lay their eggs. Then she dies, but I'm not sure when the dude dies. I'm not curious enough to look it up. Baby cicada nymphs hatch. They fall from the tree branches and burrow into the ground and wait for another 13 years.

This is "freak of nature" type of stuff. My yard is covered with literally THOUSANDS of nasty brown shells, which means my dog hasn't put a dent in the cicada population. She doesn't much like the mature cicadas because they buzz when she puts them in her mouth. Really. Gag.

Oh, and I haven't really discussed the noise they make when they are all worked up. I can only guess this is the mating call. It sounds like someone recorded a lawn mower, weed whacker, chainsaw, blower and ambulance then upped the volume by 428% and played it back at a higher speed so the pitch is somewhere near highly annoying and deafening.

Did I mention that this whole cicada cycle lasts for 3 to 4 weeks?