When I first heard about “return of the 17-year Cicadas” here in Westfield, New Jersey, I told my husband that I was considering a very long vacation- far away- for the bug reunion. People warned me that our town is particularly populated with the red-eyed, fig shaped bugs. I am seriously bug phobic after growing up in New York City in a roach invested apartment building in the days before Combat. I don’t really mind bugs out doors as long as I can run away as needed. I was not sure that I could handle this with grace.
Three weeks ago, I walked my son home from school and saw a few. The middle school girls shrieked a lot behind me but it wasn’t nearly as bad as everyone warned it would be. I did not know that that was the beginning. I think I was thrown off guard by all of the rainy days. I am not sure what cicadas do in the rain but they are not singing. It took me awhile to realize that this new strange high-pitched whirring sound was coming from the bugs. At first, I thought it was malfunctioning equipment from distant construction. As the volume got louder, it reminded me of the sound of a poorly maintained truck stuck in beach traffic two or three cars near me on a stopped highway. This past week, the sound has become a much louder -like a fleet of alien flying saucers hovering over me everywhere that I go (think Hitchcock’s Birds)!
In these past three weeks, I have had five cicadas in my house and I keep a Swiffer to “mop-poke” the bugs that I find on the front stairs to my house everyday. My dog has started to look slightly traumatized when he comes in from the back yard and my son really did when he told me that the bugs were crawling up his legs when he was playing Frisbee. He has started wearing shoes in the house. I have learned to trade in my Fit Flops for covered shoes and to walk only on treeless streets.
The recommended action for phobias is slow and steady desensitization and I think it might be working. I saw several playful little sparrows flying in my backyard before it registered that they were cicadas flying up to eat all of my trees. I was emboldened enough to even take these pictures.
My neighbor put this aluminum barrier. It seems to work. The bugs get stuck here trying to claw their way up the tree. I just don’t understand how they manage to climb up my Car.
I had to walk through the cicada gauntlet when I dropped off car with local mechanic. I had sneakers on but the crunching sounds were disturbing.
I took these shots when it poured . Perhaps the cicadas may have drowned and got stuck on this fence.
This one is trapped under glass until a brave person will take him out of my house.
Cicada exoskeletons on sidewalk.
Also published under Snarkychaser on Open Salon.