she who keeps this diary

20 May 2004 - 10:58 AM

Cicada Sanctuary

I found my first cicada casing abandoned on the clematis (which should be blooming soon and looks like it will put on a good show) yesterday. Contrary to the wild predictions of all sorts of people, I have not so far seen swarms of the winged creatures bumbling their way around the area in their desperate quest to breed before they die.

I am looking forward to seeing them, in the same way I would be interested in a comet or a meteor shower. These things just don't happen every day.

The panic and insanity expressed by the majority of folk who are talking about cicadas, at least within earshot of me, I find alternately vexing and hysterically funny. People are for the most part so out of touch with the natural world -- out of touch with reality, really -- that their responses to something as harmless as Brood X are quite astonishingly overexaggerated.

Cicadas are harmless to humans. This is hardly news, but as people don't seem to be listening, it bears repeating. Yes, they are large and loud. However, they don't bite, sting, or carry disease. They will not devour your vegetable garden. The worst they might do is damage the young twigs of your trees. If there are many in your area, you might possibly be a little inconvenienced by the noise and numbers. Heavens forbid.

Somewhere someone seems to have recommended draping young trees in netting to prevent the cicada mothers from laying their eggs in the branches. Someone who lives along my drive to work has taken this to an extreme. Every tree in their yard is swathed with bridal tulle and has been for weeks. Today as I drove in, I noticed that they had added similar covers to their peonies. It looks ridiculous, and as cicadas do not lay their eggs in herbaceous plants, pointless.

I don't intend to add cicadas to my diet for the duration -- seems to me the poor creatures have enough predators -- but the squeals of disgust yesterday after the newspapers printed cicada recipes were equally silly. Yes, we live in a culture that doesn't consume insects. We also live in a culture that doesn't enthusiastically embrace organ meats as food. This is because we have the privilege of living in an affluent society where we don't have to eat these things to get sufficient protein in our diets. That doesn't render cicada-eating 'gross' or 'weird,' any more than eating sweetbreads is. If you don't want to eat cicadas, don't, and get a grip.

My local hardware store had an article posted (courtesy of Scott's or ChemLawn or some such company) on how to kill cicadas using chemical products. Presumably these same helpful people have charts on the most effective agents to wipe out those annoying preying mantids and butterflies, too.

No thank you. Even if I wanted the cicadas gone, chemical warfare isn't an option. I like to walk barefoot in my yard. My dog commonly follows me outside while I'm gardening, where he nibbles grass, rolls, and mulches sticks. Furthermore, we have a well system, and all of us -- cats, dog, Viking and self -- drink that water. I'm not going to poison our water supply. Or the cicadas.

verso - recto

The WeatherPixie

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