Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Red-Eyed Menaces

 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.


7 comments:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Sounds HORRIBLE. Thank the Goddess we don't have cicadas in Canada. Too cold, hallelujah!

Bohemian said...

That would be terrifying! I know here in the Desert, every so often we get swarms of things like big Grasshoppers, certain Butterflies and Killer Bees. That's been traumatic enough, except for the Butterflies, how can you be traumatized by Butterflies, except that at first they're swarms of Caterpillars until they turn into Magnificent Creatures! We get Cicada here but I don't recall the 17 year Cycles being Epic, so mebbe our Species is not as prolific, I dunno, but yes, the decibels are impressive from a Bug, aren't they?

e said...

I lived in Northern Arizona for several years in the late 1980's and early 90's and there was a cicada 'event' during that time. It was unnerving. They were everywhere! And, yes, so loud! I'm certain that it wasn't as huge as the current explosion of arthropod abundance, but I'm glad I haven't had to live through a repeat. You were brave to go out kayaking!

Unknown said...

Rodger C said:

They get into the house, sometimes by sitting on my head. Then the cats find them.

"Rowr?"

"EEK EEK EEK"

Laura said...

I'm in North Carolina and I haven't really seen or heard any cicadas. Last month we had a cold spell and just before that I was starting to hear the cicadas sing, but I've not heard any since.
weird...

love, kisses & magical wishes...

ps...at least they aren't roaches.

pam nash said...

We have them here also. Large, noisy, and everywhere. But could be worse - they could also sting like mosquitoes (which are almost as big - honest!).

JACKIESUE said...

I think Texas has something similar..the black crickets which will come up from the ground around sept. they piled up knee deep in the corners of the porch.came in the house...was horrible..but it's only bad about every 7 years...