The Year of the Locust

This has been the year of the cicada in parts of the U.S. Cicadas have invaded like – well, like a plague of locusts from the Bible. Cicadas are sometimes called locusts, although, as I understand it, a true locust is more like a grasshopper.

These little buggers are not grasshoppers, but they do come in cycles. Our particular locusts are the 17 year cicadas, also known as Brood X. There are also 13 year cicadas and many places have both. How lucky can you be?

We were told that they would come this year. At first we didn’t pay much attention. “I remember last time,” said one friend, “and they were terrible. This year there are only a few.”
So much for that, we thought, but it was early. They were still underground and most had not yet immerged to put on their noisy spectacular.

How can I describe what they look like? To me they resemble a giant roach with the wings of a moth. But the prominent bug eyes that are bright orange are the worse part. They are without a doubt one of nature’s ugliest creations.

At first I noticed only a few dead ones lying on the sidewalk. Well, they were dead, nothing to worry about there. They are not going to be nearly as bad as last time, I thought.

And I was right, they were not as bad as before — they were worse. As the weather grew hotter, more of them began to emerge from their holes. They were looking for two things – food and sex. What can you expect? It’s been 17 years.

They were everywhere. Their cricket-like calls filled the air as they sang their mating song. There were so many that the songs joined together in chorus and became a deafening drone. The hotter the day, the louder the song. They become so loud at the peak of the season that you can hear them inside with the doors and windows closed.

They claimed residence in the trees. Leaves are alive with the crawling bugs, which means you need to stay away from trees. I found this out the hard way when I walked too close to a low hanging limb and was buzzed by dozens of the critters.

They are suppose to be harmless to people. They do not sting or bite and supposedly do not carry any sort of disease. Still, who wants to be harassed by flying roaches?

Actually, I heard that they are crustaceans, which means they are of the same family as shrimp or lobsters. That’s all we need, flying shrimp. Personally, I like my shrimp in the water until time to go to the restaurant.

Yes, a few crazy people actually cook and eat them – more for the publicity than anything else, I think. They may eat bugs in Africa or China, but I’ll pass on that delicacy, thank you.

The air becomes thick with swarms of insects crashing into windshields. The Interstate is cicada alley. The side of the road is littered with cicada bodies, victims of previous accidents. It is impossible to keep them outside. Cicadas get inside your car and wreak havoc while you are driving.

I screamed the first time I saw one on my kitchen floor. Soon it became the norm. You simply swat them with a fly swatter and sweep them up. They even come down the chimney.

They seem to attack you outside. I don’t know if it is deliberate or if they just don’t watch where they are flying. One day a large bug dive-bombed right into my face.

Just when you think you can’t stand it any longer, the season is over. The amorous bugs have had their fun and each female will lay about 500 eggs. Next time could be worse.

Bigger and better plagues may be coming soon. The 13 year brood will come in 2024. In the meantime, I can say, “See ya later, cicada.”

Copyright 2011 Sheila Moss
Updated 2021

About Sheila Moss

My stories are about daily life and the funny things that happen to all of us. My columns have been published in numerous newspapers, magazines, anthologies, and websites.
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8 Responses to The Year of the Locust

  1. CarlyStarr says:

    Oh my God they must have been so loud!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lois Hunter says:

    I would probably have to live in a room without windows, chimneys, or any other opening to the outside world until they were gone. If one got into the car with me it would make national news, of a crazy woman driving the wrong way down the street, while screaming! The worst thing I had to deal with while driving was a wasp and a spider. That is another story.


  3. I’ll trade you some Palmetto Bugs. At least your Cicadas have color.


  4. musing75 says:

    Being European, courtesy of Hollywood I have heard cicadas many many more times in a film than I have in real life. The effect of this is that when I am in America and here these creatures doing their thing my gut reaction is to look around for the car chase or shoot-out that is sure to break the “calm” of the scene before me!


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