As students are graduating and people of all ages are moving into new phases of their lives, it forces us all to look at how quickly life changes and the years fly by.
Somehow this is 2016, but it seems like it wasn’t that long ago that we were still in 1999, wondering what the new millennium would be like.
Those were the days when my son was only two years old, my two youngest stepchildren were not even born yet and the idea of an iPhone seemed like something out of Star Trek. This was also the last time that the 17-year cicadas emerged in my part of Ohio.
Like the people of Brigadoon, the cicadas are now mysteriously reappearing, and I am super excited about the whole thing. First of all, cicadas are fascinating creatures that live interesting lives. Second of all, I think a Brigadoon type musical about the lives of cicadas would be awesome.
Did you know that cicadas have five eyes? They have the two main ones that you can see easily and then three more eyes that are probably useful but seem like they would just make things tough. I hate it when I see double or get cross-eyed, can you imagine seeing quintuple? How would you ever focus on anything? I would prefer to five noses instead.
Also, the male cicadas are the ones that make most of the noise. They have some special body part in their abdomen that makes this noise that can be super loud, and it is used mainly for mating. It’s similar to why many men learn to play guitar.
Anyway, I read several articles that said that the noise is so loud at times that you should be careful if you are using power tools during the daytime hours because the female cicadas will fly around you because they think it is the sound of a male cicada. I actually have the same problem with female humans buzzing around me when I am using power tools…
Of course, if I’m a male cicada, I’m just going to sit on someone’s running lawn mower or leaf blower and try to impress the female cicadas.
The baby cicadas are born while the adults have emerged from the ground for their big party, and the female cicadas lay the baby cicada eggs in the tree branches. The baby cicadas eventually hatch and make their way into ground, where they live on tree roots and dig around for the next 17 years. Cicadas live on tree fluids in the ground, which sounds awful until you remember how much you love root beer.
After the 17 years, the cicadas come out of the ground so that they can shed their skin, fly around and mate so that they can make new cicadas who will start the whole process over again. The cicadas also provide lots food for other animals, and people apparently eat them, too.
Now at McDonald’s, McCicada is back! Or maybe one of the soft drink companies can market Cicada-Up!
The cicadas can damage weaker trees and weak branches, but some consider this as one of nature’s ways of pruning the trees. When the cicadas die later in the summer, they also provide lots of nutrients for the ground underneath the trees, so they benefit the trees in this way.
Also, some scientists speculate that the 17-year-cycle for the cicadas (as well as the 13-year-cycle for another group of cicadas) is important because it is a prime number. This way, predators of the cicadas don’t evolve with any natural cycle for eating the cicadas, or something like that. I was terrible with algebra and prime numbers, but I think this idea is fascinating even if I don’t completely understand it.
Basically, I am very excited about hearing all of the noise and seeing the swarms of cicadas this summer. I’m also obsessing over the idea that while they have been digging around in the ground and drinking root beer, the world around them has changed so much. I feel like I have done a lot in the last 17 years and that my family and friends have done a great deal, too.
I have moved around, worked at several jobs, grown a beard and accomplished a lot while they have been just digging around in the ground. Now that I think about it, though, I’m not sure if that shows how much I have achieved or instead how futile all of my efforts really were…
Regardless, I hope they have a fun time flying around and having fun like the crazy teenagers that they are, but I also hope that they take a few moments to look around and appreciate how much the world has changed before they go and try to mate with my lawnmower.
And I hope when they see me, I hope that they see someone who has grown a little older, wiser and hairier, and I hope that they don’t see me in quintuple, no one wants to see that much of me.