My dear ol' dad taught me to respect and appreciate insects. I'm pretty tolerant of most bugs, with the usual exceptions for cockroaches and biting flies. It's never been part of my playbook to be disconcerted by harmless insects, no matter how large they are.
That tolerance was tested to the max over the weekend when I went to Maryland for my nephew's high school graduation.
The state of Maryland is experiencing a brood year for 17-year cicadas. I took some photos that are better than others online, but my technology isn't working for me tonight. I will have to paint a picture with words.
These HUGE, LOOMING MENACES have beady red eyes, transparent wings, and the vocal prowess of 100,000 HEAVY METAL BANDS. They consider all parts of the human body to be swell perches. They collide with windshields with resounding splats. And YOU CANNOT HEAR ABOVE THEIR DIN.
The worst of it was on the Baltimore Beltway, a place where one doesn't want to be distracted by SWARMS OF SIZABLE BUGS. It felt like they were raining from the sky. Glancing at the trees beside the highway revealed packs and packs of them. And then ... SPLAT. SPLAT. SPLAT. Windshield wipe-out.
At first I thought the Red-Eyed Menaces weren't as numerous in Western Maryland. But then my sister and I took a kayak paddle down a local waterway, and WE HAD TO SHOUT TO BE HEARD OVER THE CICADAS. They were flailing in the stream, zooming through the air, and using the kayaks (and our shoulders, and our heads) as helpful landing zones.
Oh, I wish my photos would load! Then I could subject you to the trauma!
17-year cicadas are about the length and size of a thumb. That's a little bit more insect than I want to find on my kneecap, glaring at me from beady red eyes.
Well, reader. I did survive. I'm back in New Jersey, which is remarkably free of the scourge. I don't know how I have gotten to the ripe age I am without ever having been confronted with a 17-year cicada brood, but it happened. Now my education on the subject of Red-Eyed Menaces is complete, and I'll know to take a pass on Maryland in 2038.