True, embellished and fictional stories for your amusertainment

Ci-cay-das, Ci-cah-das

Soon the East Coast is going to be overrun with billions of 17-year cicadas. It’s a colossal event of biblical proportions. I know, because the western suburbs of Chicago went through the same thing 5 years ago.

It’s one of the most fascinating experiences of my life. Normally, I’m squeamish about being outnumbered by creatures with 6 or more legs. Because this could be a once in a lifetime event for me, I embraced it in order to experience the full effect of these unique creatures.

17-year cicadas live underground for (you guessed it) 17 years. When the ground reaches a temperature of 64 degrees, they burrow out, seeking a vertical spot in which to exit their shell.

Emerging from shell

Emerging from shell

Empty shells

Empty shells

They party for 4-6 weeks with the sole purpose of mating and producing nymphs that will live in the ground for another 17 years. The males make noise to attract females. En masse, their sound is equivalent to a jet engine.

There were so many in Chicago, the zoo paid people to bring coffee cans full of cicadas to feed the animals. Kids had a field day. Dogs were known to get sick from over eating.

There's no escape

They’re everywhere

When I first experienced the cicadas, I walked carefully down a neighborhood sidewalk so I wouldn’t step on any of them. I stopped by a tree to marvel at the sheer number. Little did I know until I looked up that even more were over my head.

There were just as many in the tree over my head

There were just as many in the tree over my head

It’s easy to identify the 17-year brood from the run-of-the-mill cicada because they’re different colors. The most notable feature of the 17-years is their red eyes.

17-Year Brood

17-Year Brood

The annual bugs have dark eyes.

The annual Cicadas are rarely seen

The annual Cicadas are rarely seen

If I’m still in Chicago when the 17-year brood returns, I’ll make the trip to see them again. Fact is truly stranger than fiction.

May the farce be with you!

Your IFF,



Comments on: "Ci-cay-das, Ci-cah-das" (6)

  1. I did not realize the bugs were in regions and on different 17 yr. cycles!!! Your story is very interesting and the pictures a really great!!! Thank you! What is your area 17 yr cycle?

    • They’ll return to the western burbs in 12 years. I’ve never seen so many bugs at once. It’s an incredible experience.

  2. Very interesting! I also went through the event when I was in Missouri in 1993. The noise is absolutely amazing and annoying!

    • I’m glad they weren’t in my neighborhood. I enjoyed the brief experience but wouldn’t like it for a continuous 6 weeks. We hear cicadas every summer but rarely see them so it was cool to see so many.

  3. And don’t let your pet eat too many of them – no matter how much the noise bugs them! The outer skeleton contains chitin that makes them sick. (Vomiting or constipation so bad it requires a vet) That stuff is found in lobster shells, too…so don’t bother taking the dog out to a fancy place for dinner!
    Great post

    • I have no idea how dog owners kept their pets from eating the cicadas because they were everywhere. I’m glad I got to see it but also glad it wasn’t at my house. The thought of my little dogs eating those bugs isn’t nearly as bad as thought of them throwing up half-digested ones. Yuck!

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