Monday, June 18, 2007

The Beginning Of The End (Of Cicadas)

Yesterday I saw two live cicadas!

There’s a famous “special” effects scene near the end of the giant grasshopper movie, “The Beginning Of The End,” where half a dozen obviously normal-sized grasshoppers wander around on what is obviously a photograph of downtown Chicago and viewers are supposed to believe they are giant-sized grasshoppers invading the city.

Every seventeen years when the cicadas come out many people around Chicago hope to see real-life scenes similar to that with the bugs-from-space looking cicadas standing in for the special effect grasshoppers.

This cycle has been a bust in my suburb. I’d seen one cicada husk and two or three smashed on the sidewalk but not only had I seen no “outbreaks” where thousands of the creatures cover a tree or sidewalk, but I hadn’t even seen one live cicada.

Until yesterday.

I didn’t see any live cicadas in the forest preserves south of my suburb. I didn’t see any live cicadas in the trees along our local creek. And I didn’t see any live cicadas in the shrubbery along our local railroad tracks.

But walking past our local Radio Shack store on 95th and Cicero something big flew past my face, circled around and landed on my leg. I looked down and it was a cicada! There wasn’t a tree or grass lawn anywhere in sight yet there was my first live cicada of this cycle. I reached down to grab it intending to walk it over to a side street where I could put it on a tree, but it evaded my hand and flew up to the top of the Radio Shack window. I left it there, staring in at the electronics with its big red eyes.

Ten minutes later, a few blocks west of there, I was walking through the west parking lot of our local library when another big shape flew past my face, circled around and landed on my foot. My second cicada! I reached down, carefully, and grasped it by its wings and put it on one of the trees alongside the parking lot.

Our local news is saying this cycle’s “outbreak” is almost over. I don’t feel completely cheated. I didn’t see any science fiction type infestations. (A relative of mine who lives far to the southwest says his back yard had “thousands” of the creatures “completely covering” one of his trees.) But I have heard them, seen them and touched them. It’s not as cool as witnessing an invasion, but it’s cool enough. They’re pretty freaky looking.

Cicada Wiki Page

UConn scientists map mass emergence of cicadas in Midwes

1 comment:

Angeline said...

I was a bit disappointed too by the lack of cicadas, and I was excited when I saw them near me. A couple blocks from me there is an area of about three or four blocks where they have been really noisy and having seizures all over the sidewalks from the heat. It's near the library too. Around 96th and 97th by Beatty Lumber and those new "luxury condos." I sort of was riding my bike near there again today, but now it seems whenever I'm over there, so are the police and the fire department to block the streets while they deal with that little plant over there. They were in some areas near the Oak Lawn-Bridgeview border. I am very sorry, Mark, that your summer has been lacking in cicadas over here.