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.
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.
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.
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.
The annual bugs have dark eyes.
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!