Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cicadas are just getting started

First Cicada 002

We had to go to Grandma and Grandpa's house to see the beginnings of the 17-year cicadas. Chicago has a tremendous emergence that is just getting started. I think my home is too far away from the old growth trees to have much of an emergence, but my parents area and my old stomping grounds on the north shore suburbs of Chicago will have a gazillion. Well.. 1.5 million per acre, so more like several gazillion.

We are pretty excited about this. It is a remarkable natural phenomenon that I seem to have missed the last 2 times it occurred in my lifetime. In 1973, we just moved to Chicago in June when it was at the end of the cycle. In 1990, I was living in Texas, but came up for a friend's wedding at the tail end of it. They were still dropping out of the trees, but had finished mating and so were finally quiet. Of course there were still abundant exoskeletons everywhere and the bride decided to move her outdoor reception indoors to the great relief of most of the guests.

Cicada on Nose 2

Cutie girl here thinks they are pretty awesome. They stay pretty still after they get out of their first skeleton and wait to climb up the trees. They have no mouths and no defense mechanisms whatsoever so although they look creepy, they don't skitter about in the typical insect creepy fashion. Her older brother got over his considerable squeamishness, but still prefers not to handle them. He said, "thank goodness the next time they come out I'll be 27 years old." He wants to move to Ohio for the summer where they don't have a cicada brood like this.

It's still chilly at my parents house near Lake Michigan, so we saw only just a few on Memorial Day yesterday. Last time I remember the birds were so fat from feasting, they couldn't even fly, but hobbled across the road, stuffed with the little delicacies. I'm told they are delicious and the newspaper is printing up recipes for cicada pizza and stuff like that. I doubt I'll get that into this though...

***Edited to add: Most of the Eastern USA has periodic cicadas. If he was in Ohio for the summer, my son would only miss the emergence of this particular brood. Ohio's brood emerged a few years ago...


Donna said...

Tell your son they have them in Ohio but it's not their year over there this year. I grew up there and witnessed 2 - 17 year occurences and while in southern Indiana about 3 years ago they had one of their cycles. One part of Ohio is due next year. I think he might be safe in Alaska!

takinanap said...

i absolutely love this photo! the 17 year cicada cycle is one of my favorite events. i loved it when i was a kid and i still love it. we have pix similar to this of the kids in our neighborhood where i grew up. of course they are black and white photos:) precious shot and one she will never forget.