Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Those Wacky Cicadas


Readers of this blog know that I get my marching orders from Princess Norah.  Those orders usually revolve around getting her ice cream (I introduced it to her at a local McDonald's 4 years ago), giving her horsey rides (not so much now that she is getting bigger), seeing the bees (our spot we check where bees have a nest),  and most recently: "I want an army of cicadas".   




We found one down here before I went to Northlandia and she was at first appalled, then fascinated.  Once she discovered it was merely a shell rather than a creepy crawly bug, she  became smitten and wanted more.  And so it became something of a mission to find as many as possible and send them back to an anxiously awaiting little girl.   




I walked along the north road by my place in Emerald City and then the East-West road after that.  I walked the cemetery and gathered quite a few.  I found a lot at the Bushnell Car show park.  I think they like apple trees best.  I found absolute clusters on those trees, and much less on pines.  

My first job packing down to Norah was a disaster as I found out later.  Many of the shells didn't survive.  However, I upped my game and came up with a perfect packing process after that debacle (sturdy plastic ice cream container and cotton balls).  



I have no way of knowing if this was a natural piggy back kind of thing, or whether it was a natural need to breed.  But if it was the latter it must have been frustrating for both participants - those shells are like nature's chastity belts.  




Terrible picture, but apparently proof positive that any structure is fine for de-shelling.  Spotted this shell on a tombstone in the cemetery in Emerald City.



A cicada climbing out of his armor on a tree in Bushnell.  

While gathering them at various places people called them locusts more often than not.  Therefore, in the interest of education and knowledge here are the facts about these guys.

  • These are cicadas.  Locusts are grasshoppers.  
  • This is the familiar late summer sound that fills the dusk and nighttime of Northlandia:




  • The Northlandic cicadas are the genus Magicicada or Dogday Cicada because it arrives in late summer.  
  • It has a lifespan of 13-17 years, hiding most of the time in the ground then, as legion, coming up en masse.
  • The males make the noise by vibrating a set of muscles on its side.  The reason: to procreate, of course. 
  • Cicadas feed on tree sap and are not harmful to humans.  Got that, Norah?
  • They were featured in Homer's Iliad and mentioned in Shang Dynasty literature 4,000 years ago.  
If one must have a favorite bug, perhaps the cicada might be a good start.  Norah has made her choice, and I concur.

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