Thursday, June 09, 2011


Just like a bad b-movie from the 1970s. The cicadas have invaded again.

Buzzing. Constant buzzing. Brain melting buzzing! The sound is like a thousand Star Trek phasers with the triggers stuck on stun. The source of the buzzing comes from Brood XIX Magicicada, better known as the 13 year cicadas. Thirteen or more states in the Midwest and the South have been invaded by the little buggers. My home state of Missouri is one of these states. I gotta say I’ve been kinda fascinated with ‘em. Fascinated enough to take photos & video and share them here.

Like clockwork, these creatures crawl out of the ground zombie style.

Once they've crawled out of the ground, they usually crawl up a tree to shed their shell. Just like the one below. This shot makes him look so alien, like a skull with bug legs.

Here’s a bunch under a tree leaf, leaving their shells.

I was lucky to see this acrobatic cicada pull himself free from his shell. Just press play and you can watch it too!

This one is hoping to grow up and become a Christmas ornament. Look, he's almost free!

After they shed their shell and inflate their wings, they stay in this ghostly white color for a few hours before they turn black.

I snapped some of these photos when I was bug hunting at night with my nephews and big bro. We were running around with flashlights watching ‘em come out of the ground and leave their shells. The kids loved it and us big kids did too.

Here’s a normal adult. Well, maybe not a normal one. This poor guy’s wings were all jacked up and he wasn’t able to fly. He probably became a snack for a bird. Man, somedays you just crawl out of the ground on the wrong side.

Now here's a true normal cicada right here. He's probably thinking, "I wonder what that big round thing that's super close to me is? I hope it doesn't eat me." Speaking of eating. There's a lot of crazy people actually eating cicadas. There's been reports of cicada ice cream served in Columbia, Missouri.

If you're going to take a hike through the woods, be sure to bring some earplugs. Boy, I wish I had! Go ahead and listen.

Here's an example of one cicada making noise. I don't think they like to be picked up. (The clip starts at regular speed and then changes into Slow-Mo-O-Vision and then finishes out in Annoy-O-Vision

In the next photo we see a female oviposting. Yep, she's slicing grooves into the tree, so she can lay her eggs inside. Click on the photo for a closer look. Notice the little triangle pieces of bark hanging down. That's where she's cutting. (Or at least I think so.)

The cicada below has a name. Say hi to Bob Cicada! Why is Bob Cicada named Bob Cicada? I don't know. I didn't ask him.

Once you're done groaning at my lame cicada joke, you can visit some of these fine cicada links and learn more about 'em. For all things cicada visit Cicada Mania. Learn all about the Magicicada at Cicada Central. For a good cicada blog, check out Cicada Invasion. Here's probably the best video about cicadas. Watch Sir David Attenborough play with 17 year cicadas here.

I just uploaded a blurry photo to flickr that I snapped of the mammas & the papas of this year's cicadas from 1998. I was introduced to these noisy bugs back when I was 14 in 1985. I remember how fun it was during the last couple of weeks of school sneaking cicadas inside to gross out girls and to annoy teachers. We had one crazy kid who put a cicada in his mouth and each time he stuck his tongue out, the cicada would make a buzzing sound. Ah, junior high memories.

Also, back in '85, I remember watching an episode of The New Twilight Zone that adapted Ray Bradbury's short story, The Burning Man. It has a creepy cicada twist.

Whew, this post is kinda getting out of hand and I better wrap things up. For fun, here's a photo I call Green Army Men vs. The Cicadas - in glorious black and white. I guess it kinda defeats the purpose to call them green since the photo is b/w. I'm sure the radio operator doesn't care if he's green or in b/w. He's just hoping that the giant flying bug doesn't eat his face off!

You gotta watch out for 'em flying through the air. Really, they're not the best pilots. Sometimes they crash into the side of your head or into your Fisher-Price Adventure Person while you're trying to take a photo for a cicada blog post.

See you in 2024 for part two of Kingdom of the Cicadas!


Matt said...

Wow, I well remember when Brood X came out here in the DC area in 2004, it was my very first experience with them having grown up in Los Angeles. And let me tell you the din was actually painful. There were so many of them people were skidding out of control on some streets. The 4 years later at my in-laws in WV I encountered Brood XIV. Now it looks like Brood II may come my way in 2013.

Brood Listing

Brother Bill said...

Back in grade school (1970s), when these things would crawl out of hibernation, my friends and I would spend the day catching and torturing the little guys, sometimes with elaborate devices created in Lego. Even today I'm not sure if we were candidates for psychological evalution, or if this was just normal adolescent boy behavior.