Monday, September 1, 2008


^^^Check out what the boys were doing with empty bug shells the other day-- hanging them from their t-shirts and walking around with five or six bug "monsters" on their chest :)

This is a cicada shell, often called a "locust" shell around these parts. After all these years, I have decided that the reason we call them locusts is because they are a plague! I'm only about half kidding, ya know. The shells are really fascinating, always have drawn me like a magnet. My kids seem to agree, even though usually when they encounter a bug they run screaming at the top of their lungs, "Mom! Kill it! Get it away from me!" The bug-o-phobia does not come from me, by the way, but that's another story about nature vs. nurture and fathers *wink*

Oh, yeah, back to the part where I suggest that we call cicadas "locusts" because we consider them something of a plague, maybe not of Biblical proportions, but a plague upon the ears, nonetheless. All those beautiful maple trees in our yard are filled with cicadas, and I believe their breeding season must begin as soon as there are two warm spring days in a row and end only after the first snowfall. In case you haven't experienced them, cicadas hum. . .loudly. . .and that's just one. Multiply that by the hundreds and possibly thousands, and you can hear them clearly while sitting inside your air conditioned house.

The thing is, though, that I can't help being fascinated by them, even if I can't hear myself think some days because of their racket. You're gonna think I've lost my mind, but I would miss the noise if they suddenly disappeared.

You'd think I would've looked up information on these insects some time or another in my life, but I hadn't until the other day when I googled "cicadas in Illinois." I got no further in my surfing than the University of Illinois Extension pages explaining the life cycle and different species of cicadas in Illinois. These critters pretty much exist just to reproduce. Larvae fall to the ground from their mother's perch in the trees. Larvae burrow into the ground, only to re-emerge when ready to reproduce themselves. They dig out of the ground, climb a tree, shed their old exoskeleton, and go about the business of mating.

^^^^Ewwwwwwww, sorta gross! Here's what I saw yesterday, a larva emerging from its old shell. It just hung there for at least an hour, wings slowly expanding and drying. I missed the rest of the show, but maybe someday I'll capture a pic of one that has fully expanded its wings but is still waiting for them to dry.


rosebud101 said...

You are so right about the noise! It sometimes would make me feel like I needed a glass of wine. Oh, well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

ellen said...

We have the noisy buggers up here in MI too. My older sister lived in the DC area for many years and periodically (can't remember but it might be every 7 yrs but I could be making that up) there's a big difference in the number and noise of the cicadas. She called during the last time and just held the phone out the back door. Amazing noise. I seem to recall she said she had to keep her dog inside too because they're poisonous to pets if they eat them. Pretty sure I'm not making that up.

Right Turn ArtWerks said...

Okay, I'm a bug whimp. Can I scream for you when I see one of these things? Yes, we've got them in Michigan but if I see one I'm gonna spray it!

Capt Elaine Magliacane said...

EEEW... I hate bugs too... Yuk get that thing away from me..

angelinabeadalina said...

See, told ya they're like the plague, LOL! Ellen, I'm thinking there's a 17-year cycle for one species and another one with a "shorter" cycle. That might be the one your sis ran into in DC.

Mallory, if I liked wine, I'd try that for the noise!

My apologies and promises for no more buggy pics for a while, Linda and Elaine :)

Lori Peterson said...

I shall officially stop bitching about the 3 weeks of June bugs.

Dude, that is some scary buggage you got going on there. I think I just crossed another state off my "might like to live there" list.