OK, so this is a health care blog but to keep it fresh I make it a point to mix topics. Today’s blog topic is way off subject but relevant to the time of year.
Surely by now you’ve noticed a “hum” from trees around your house and you’ve seen demonic looking creatures flying through the air. The culprits are the cicada.
I was at a meeting on the campus of the University of Missouri last Saturday and the cicadas were so loud that I could not hear traffic traveling by on Providence Avenue. In the 100 yards I walked from the university building where I my meeting took place to my car I had 5 cicadas land on me.
I’ve become intrigued by the cicadas and I’ve done a little research. As a matter of fact when I “googled” cicada I actually spelled the word “cicada” which just goes to show how little I knew about the annoying creature.
I’ve found conflicting reports and there are differing opinions as to whether this year’s “crop” are 13 or 17 year cicadas. I’m going with the 17 year version because that sounds more impressive – and let’s face it the “sound” is impressive.
The buzz we’ve been hearing is the result of the once every 17 year periodical cicada. The 17 year cicada is a red-eyed insect that spends the majority of its life underground feeding on the sap of trees before emerging from the ground for a week-long party that includes making a lot of noise and mating.
Once the cicadas emerge from their 17 year binge of tree sap their skin pops open which explains the brown exoskeletons covering your house and trees. After leaving their skin the bug hardens, their bodies turn black and they develop red veins in their wings.
Once their wings develop the party really takes off and the fun begins because the cicada will only be alive for up to a week. During the final week of the cicadas life, the insect makes a lot of noise, finds a mate, mates and then the female lays eggs. The male cicada just dies.
The female deposits up to 600 eggs in the branches of trees and bushes where the eggs hatch and turn into larva. The larva fall to the ground and dig into the soil where they will spend the next 17 years eating tree sap and getting ready to emerge only to live for a week, find a mate and die.
My research into the life of a cicada has convinced me of this: If I had to spend 17 years captive in the dark only to find that when I do finally see the light of day I have a week to live – I’d make a lot of noise too!
So when the hum of the cicada gets on your nerves, remember, they are trying to fit a lifetime of fun into one week of living!