Top reasons to panic over Brood X cicadas

For months I have been hearing about the Brood X singing cicadas that will be coming to a tree near me. I’d rather they go to a bar near me and sing on Karaoke night, but I have little say in such matters.

Besides, they are not coming—they have arrived.

Stephen Walker / Unsplash

I was in the garden recently saying a few words over the two-inch stub that remained from a beautiful 5-foot purple clematis. If I catch the rabbits that destroyed the clematis, I will say a few words over them, too. They will not be kind words.

Wrapping chicken wire around the paltry remains of the clematis, I noticed small holes in the hardened ground nearby. The cicada nymphs had begun to emerge.

I’m a mature grown-up. I’m not going to panic over an invasion of millions (perhaps billions) of cicadas and run screaming toward the house.

I walked briskly and sobbed softly.

Safe in the house, windows shut, doors barricaded, I calmly reviewed what I know to be true about cicadas, drew a line down the middle of a yellow legal tablet and labeled one side “Reason to Panic” and the other “Reason Not to Panic.”

The first Reason Not to Panic is that insect experts unanimously agree Brood X prefers heavily wooded areas.

Reason to Panic: We live in a heavily wooded area.

Reason Not to Panic: People think they are called Brood X because of their size, but they are Brood X because it will be the tenth time scientists will have observed the 17-year cicadas.

Reason to Panic: X may indicate a Roman numeral, not shirt size, but the locusts  have a 3-inch wingspan and are 2.5 inches long, which in the insect world makes them an XXXL.

Reason Not to Panic: Brood X loves to sing and will provide music around the clock.

Reason to Panic: A 4-year-old grand who said, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a singing cicada in the house?”

Yet another Reason to Panic: They may be so thick in some places that they drop from trees, land on humans and cover outdoor surfaces. Clearly, Brood X does not practice social distancing.

Reason Not to Panic:  We have a leaf blower.

Perhaps the greatest reason to not panic is that (almost) everyone in our family enjoys cicada shells. Last year, the grands wore them on their shirts, in their hair and parked them on their noses. One of our grown daughters, married, mother of three, seemingly rational and sane, picked up a locust shell, dipped it in ketchup and pretended to eat it.

Reason to Panic: The family is loosely wrapped.

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