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I just completed a cross-country mini-odyssey driving with my oldest daughter from Ohio to Florida for her summer internship so she could have a car with her.
The thing that struck us about the trip, which was mostly just miles and miles of highway surrounded by countryside, was the cicadas.
Ohio, PA, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and NY are privy this year to the 17-year emergence of these insects from their usual home in the ground. They invade the trees, mate, and make a LOT of noise–well, at least the males do. I’ve heard that by July, they’ll be back in the ground. (And I’m excited for that, because besides being loud and sort of creepy, this infestation reminds me of a sort of biblical plague.)
At home, as I drive my usual route to the grocery store, it’s not uncommon to see them flying around the road, in the trees, and around my car. They make an ungodly noise that sounds to me like a high-pitched car alarm. One website advises not to put a cicada near your ear (like I’d do that!) because the noise can damage your hearing!
Apparently, there are “Broods” of cicadas. Some areas have the 13-year broods and we have the 17. Apparently every 221 years it’s a double treat, and you get both the broods emerging at once. (I haven’t been able to figure out from the web when this blessed event will occur, but truthfully, I don’t really want to know if it’s in my lifetime :))
I learned that some cicada individuals get confused and emerge a year early or a year later than they’re supposed to. “Tardy” and “Overly Punctual” varieties, maybe?
As my daughter and I drove through Ohio and West Virginia, we could hear groups of them singing loudly in the trees. It was weird to hear clusters of this noise doing the Doppler effect as we drove along. We could see them flying around in the trees (because they’re big–around 2 inches long each) and a good dozen smacked into our windshield, while many more flew past our car.
Creepy. But very memorable.
It was great fun spending time with my grown daughter as she looked forward with excitement and anxiety to her summer adventure. Fun to have a good amount of time with her now that she is off being an adult and not home very much.
The best part was, when we finally got to Florida, it was hot as you-know-what, but…no cicadas!