Cicada Central

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m not really a nature girl, per se. Not up close, anyway.

For those of you who were around for the Fordeville Swarm Incident of 2012, you’ll recall that I was terrorized by tens of thousands of honey bees and I thought the End of Days was going down in my backyard. Or maybe a Candyman sequel.

Well, it turns out that whole thing was nothing but a warm-up act. Sort of an Amateur Night. Because, if you really want to freak me the hell out, you’ll make my yard the Global Headquarters for the 17 Year Brood II Cicadas.

It’s a crazy sex party outside my window.

A loud, messy, shameless sex party.

And these guys have been waiting 17 years for some action.

It feels more like a horror movie. Especially when you think about this stat: There are as many as one billion emerging cicadas per square mile. Put another way: Cicadas may outnumber humans by a ratio of 600:1.


I grew up in New Jersey and I honestly don’t remember any of this cicada madness from my childhood. But it appears that the property on which my current home sits is my own personal Poltergeist of insect scenarios. Because I really never pictured myself doing things like sweeping hundreds of bugs off my front porch and backyard swing set multiple times a day. It’s just not something you think will ever be in your Parental Job Description.

“Mom! Mom! Get the broooooooom! Sweep them away! I can’t walk to the car! MOMMMMMMMMM — there’s another one and another and  another and — ewwwwwww, don’t step on that one. OH NO, you stepped on it and now it’s all mushy on the steps and I can’t walk there. And there are a few more, and what number comes after 12,000?”

I try to set a decent example for my kids. Honestly, it’s like being in the running for a Best Actress Oscar.

  • What I say, with relative calm, while screaming on the inside: “Oh, come on, they don’t hurt anyone. Don’t worry about them. But they sure are everywhere, huh?” 

I’m practically Meryl Streep. I know.

Because, seriously, the trunks of my trees look like they’re moving sometimes. As does my lawn, where the nasty little spawn continue to crawl out of holes in the ground in huge numbers.


And now, I have a few questions about this whole phenomenon. Some may be rhetorical.

  • What. The. Fuck. Mother. Nature?
  • Is this revenge for the honey bee removal? It is, right? Some sort of twisted karma insect vendetta? {If so, I repent. Just make this stop.}
  • Why did I ever leave Manhattan? Whyyyyyyy?
  • Can’t we find a small patch of land to declare a Cicada-Free Zone?
  • Why are parts of my town wholly unaffected? Do they pay extra taxes or are they just better people?
  • Where can I order a residential bunker to be installed under my home for the next month? And will it be temperature-controlled enough to store wine?

The carcasses crunch under my feet. The mating call sounds like an ongoing car alarm. The birds are all flying around with cicadas hanging out of their beaks. It’s like National Geographic on steroids.

I know, they do no harm.

I know, it’s a miracle of nature.

I know, The Circle of Life. All of that.

Or, it’s my personal definition of Hell — much like being locked in a room with an endless loop of Taylor Swift songs.

Go ahead — tell me I’m overreacting. That’s fine. I’m sure it seems that way. After all, they are just harmless bugs having big orgy in my yard. I shouldn’t begrudge them their moment. And they’ll be gone soon, not to return for 17 years.

So when the summer of 2030 arrives, you will find me on vacation in a bug-free land. Or securely tucked away in the awesome wine bunker I had installed back in good old 2013.




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  1. Alison says:

    That picture of the tree is insane. I grew up in NY and the cicada problem was never that bad. I don’t like them either. They’re super creepy and make awful noises as they fly into things. There are no cicadas here in GA but we have roaches the size of beavers so I guess the grass is always greener.

  2. Jen K says:

    I do remember a cicada invasion from my dad’s office picnic in a park somewhere (in NJ) and they were dropping from trees onto our plates. Bleh. My kids, however, are now disappointed that the cicadas haven’t emerged yet here in Western NC.
    My own crazy bug story: in NC i lived in a dorm & apartments then my hubs and I finally bought our piece of suburbia. The first summer, I called our pest control people and said there were swarms of giant bugs hovering near the grass all over the whole yard. In my panic, and my Yankee accent, I said, “It’s like… LOCUSTS.” Long pause. “Um. No, they’re just June Bugs ma’am. We don’t exterminate those.”

  3. Yeah, it’s disgusting and crunchy and deafening and MAKE IT STOP FOR GOD’S SAKE.

  4. Marcos says:

    Hmmm….first the bees, now the cicadas…are you The Insect Whisperer??

    I do have an idea: Try blasting Taylor Swift music outside and see if it has a negative effect on them. Either that or maybe some Adele. If they’ve waited 17 years to get it on, then they won’t want any shit music to dampen the mood…

    Good luck!!!

  5. I can’t even read this without scratching. I have no words. EW…..
    Come to Seattle. We are pretty much bug – free. Oh I hope I didn’t jinx it!

  6. Leslie says:

    Is Señor eating them? I heard that dogs can sometimes “gorge” on them and I know how hungry he is!!!

  7. Karen says:

    Think of the protein!!! Lots of great cicada recipes out there, and they are a cheap and plentiful source of food… Just kidding. None in my backyard in south Jersey yet. Apparently dogs think they are quite tasty with no preparation needed. Blech.

    Just curious… I remember the bee swarm. Did I miss a follow up about what eventually happened to the tree? Did you get rid of it?

  8. Teri says:

    I just commented on the swarm post and am completely horrified at the thought of all those freaking cicadas outside my door. I lived back in Mays Landing, NJ the last time and I KNOW we didn’t have all those on our property, which probably explains our higher tax rate. I knew it was something like that.

    Anyway, how about blasting some good 70’s porn music to help them get on with the mating thing and be done and over with?? Maybe light some candles?

  9. My face is still scrunched up in a 1/2 Quasimodo 1/2 valley girl. What the fuck, indeed? And, it’s great that you are pregnant because that makes all world devastation level insect invasion so much more palatable.

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