The infamous line from a popular horror movie of “they’re here” pops into my head every time I step outside. I am of course referring to Brood X cicadas. Their constant hum has turned into a white noise background reminiscent of my childhood visits to my grandparent’s farm.
Surrounded by pine trees, the songs and calls of various insects would blend with the lowing of cattle and birdsong into a natural symphony which reverberated across the farm. It was peaceful and a perfect backdrop for lazy summer days of a childhood.
Apparently, others are not so soothed by the constant love songs produced by these six-legged Romeo’s. The Hubs finds the drone irritating and our son, Sparky, has complained of how loud they are.
At first, I admit to being a bit unnerved by the sheer volume of holes in our yard — each one about the size of a Lifesavers candy, which these bugs have crawled out. It also explains why we have such obese ground moles burrowing through our yard, they were eating cicada larvae which was apparently an abundant buggy buffet under our feet.
This brood of cicadas is much smaller than the bugs I remember from years ago, perhaps it is a variation of species, but they still certainly have made their presence known. It’s not just the constant hum, but leaving behind their empty exoskeletons as they outgrow them.
These leavings are fascinating to study. I have carefully shown them to our son, Sparky, pointing out the legs, eye covering, thorax and abdomen of these ghostly husks. He has found them somewhat interesting, but still shows a degree of revulsion for the way they can cling to most surfaces as if they are still somehow hanging on to life. We spend a lot of time discussing whether or not the cicadas can bite you (no), but how their legs might feel “pinchy” as they hang on.
Our oak trees are covered with these critters, their discarded skins piling up around the base and sounding like dried leaves when you step on them. The Hubs sucked a pile of them up with the lawn mower earlier in the week and the resulting pulverized dust exploded out the side, looking like a sandstorm which wafted into the field and disappeared.
We have several friends who talk about using the cicadas in stir-fry, on pizza or as a snack food. I don’t think any of them actually do, but one never knows. A couple people have jokingly asked if I have a recipe for them and my retort is that we only eat them as a secondary food. They don’t know what to make of that response, and generally leave it alone.
One thing is for sure, our chickens love them. They have happily been stuffing their gullets full of these high protein treats, then staggering back to the coop to nap each day. We eat the chicken eggs, so we are indirectly consuming the bugs. It’s a win-win for the chickens and ourselves, not so much for the cicadas.
In a few weeks, the life cycle of the adults will be complete and their call will diminish, our chickens will move on to chasing grasshoppers and beetles for their snacks. The Hubs and Sparky will forget about them and hopefully the ground moles will move out of the yard. For myself, I will miss their presence and the cicada song of summers past.
Written and submitted by Sarah Roush for The Circleville Herald. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.