Jack Simpson: Seventeen years later, the big blaring bugs are back



They're coming! I'm not talking about the boogey men. No, I've been told those cicada nymphs that have been underground for 17 years sucking on plant roots are about to emerge.

Folks from Connecticut to Virginia have been warned that soon cicadas will be seen on bushes and trees making those loud clicking noises that are ear-splitting and that drive listeners crazy.

There is no escaping those tree crickets with their transparent wings, big eyes and unique sound. It is mating season.

Adult cicadas will mate, their eggs will fall to the ground, hatch, and after the adults die, nymphs will burrow into the ground, not to be seen for another 17 years.

I suppose we can be thankful cicadas do not bite or harm plants. They are noisy and messy as they shed skin litter and sound off. When you get a swarm of insects like cicadas, there is speculation as to what you can do with them. Squirrels and birds know. They eat some of them. In fact, there are people who also eat cicadas saying they are a good source of protein. I am not among this crowd, but I can still be an onlooker and be amused at what I see.

It is amazing that what we will be seeing and hearing went underground in about 1996. Now, when they emerge, those who read their cookbooks might whip us up some banana cicada bread. How does that appeal to you?

Eating cicadas may be something a few folks will undertake, but here are a few reactions others have had when seeing cicadas appear:

"They will be the death of me."

"I'm scared of these bugs."

"It took 10 minutes to go from house to car because of cicadas."

"Can't enjoy going for a walk. Too many cicadas."

"They fly around like little drones."

"Yummy -- good protein."

These critters have a strange life. Grow underground for 17 years. Emerge and sing in the trees and shrubs, mate, deposit eggs and die. They are an interesting study and professor Chris Simon of the University of Connecticut is one scientist observing them. You and I may soon join the curious. I wonder what our reaction and our quotation will be when we observe the swarm.

Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author and law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.