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The curious life cycle of a cicada

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By The Staff

There we were, face to face. Nothing but a windshield between us; the final resting place for so many of her next of kin. But she was a survivor, sitting atop my windshield wiper. Was she there to pay respects to so many that saw their demise on Interstate 71, or just taking an opportunity to give me the evil eye? Oh those eyes. Those little red, wide-set eyes. Her family had emerged after seventeen years. They, Brood XIV, must have a purpose.

For the past several weeks, you’ve likely come across this family as well. Their presence among us is finally coming to an end. The mid-day buzzing that lasted into evening is almost non-existent now. With a domain more present in some areas of the county than others, no place was more inhabited than La Grange. A place that I like to call Cicadapolis. Walking past the courthouse lawn, I couldn’t get the Addams Family tune out of my head ee “They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky, they’re all together ooky”ee not enough words that end in “ooky” to describe them.

Yes, we all know that cicadas are largely harmless. They don’t bite or sting. If one of them lands on us, it’s probably just because we looked like a good landing pad. But that doesn’t make it any less weird when one of them gets into the car with you or lands in your hair. As I opened the front door of The Oldham Era to leave for lunch one day, one was flying directly into my face. As I flailed and retreated back into the building, I’m pretty sure there’s never been a time in my life that I’ve looked more like a sissy. The fact that co-workers saw me was just a bonus.

All this led to some water cooler debate. We questioned why, if they return just every 17 years, we had them back in 2004. And some people call them locusts. Is that right? Come to find out, locusts are actually grasshoppers, unrelated to cicadas. And in 2004, those were the Brood X periodical cicadas, so they’ll be back in 2021. There are even other cicada species that return every 13 years, and parts of Kentucky could see Brood XIX in 2011, and Brood XXIII in 2015. Please don’t hold me to any of this. I’m not a cicada specialist, I just play one in the newspaper.

Sure they messed up our windshields and made us do crazy, evasive dances, but they gave us all something to talk about for a few weeks. After living underground for 17 years, they came out to serenade us every evening for a few weeks as spring turned into summer, until their life cycle was complete. So I choose not to look upon them as pests, but rather a reminder of what’s been and what’s yet to come.

If only more things in life were as curious, yet predictable.

The views expressed in this column may not necessarily represent the views of The Oldham Era.