Cicada Brood XIX

Every 13 years, millions of cicadas dig their way out of their underground nests and swarm the air of middle Tennessee - frightening children, exciting dogs, and startling anyone who walks outside. Every year, we hear cicadas up in the trees humming their buggy tune. But it’s usually easy to miss it - blending in with the other outdoor background noise. This year however, the chance of busting an ear drum when you go outside is a real risk...I can already hear them as I sit writing this. Yes you guessed it, this is the 13-year cicada swarm and everyone is anticipating their arrival ‘en masse’.

Many people have no idea what to expect because they aren’t from here and have never experienced it before. Let me just say that when I was 5 years old, I remember being on the playground during the cicada swarm. The air was so thick with them that even a pre-schooler could catch them just by stretching out her hand. The next time they arrived, thirteen years later, I was about to graduate from high school. I remember the massive amount of cicada shells covering every outdoor surface (apparently they come of the ground looking like beetles, then they shed their outer shell emerging as winged beasts).

If you live in this area, your garden plants aren’t in danger of being eaten by the cicadas. However, if you have young trees, it’s a good idea to cover them with cheesecloth or tobacco cloth during the 5 weeks that they are out. Female cicadas lay their eggs in small young branches by splitting the wood. Apparently apple, pear, dogwood, oak and hickory trees are particularly at risk.

I am not afraid of cicadas because I know they can’t hurt me, but these critters are seriously large and alien looking and I can certainly let out a startled cry when they fly into my head. Scientists have named this year’s swarm, or brood as they like to say, Cicada Brood XIX. Though they are just roman numerals, those X’s seem ominous, don’t they? A brood to beware? But I’m not worried...more like excited to have such an interesting subject to discuss among friends, and to see how much fun Rusty will have trying to catch them in mid air. And I know my chickens will be happy with their fancy cicada treats.

Oh and if you would like to try a high protein cicada recipe yourself (yes people can eat them), here is a recipe for cicada tacos. I doubt that I am brave enough, but I know many a braver person than I. If you do try it, please let me know about it.


Amanda Conley said...

These are the 17 year ones. :-)

Keely Brooke Keith said...

Nice article, Annalise. I only gagged twice ;-)
I remember these creatures vividly in 1998. They hit my VW windshield like rain as I drove down the street. Ugh!
Middle TN enjoyed the 17-year variety in 2008, I believe. It was loud, but not as disgusting - I mean interesting - as our beloved XIX.
Nice post!

Post a Comment