Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Pleasant Encounter

As I think I mentioned before, we have cicadas here in Ohio.

We hear them a lot more often than we see them.

That's probably because they tend to sit way up high in the trees and we don't.

Did I mention that I heard my first cicada of the year on July 3? And that they're called 90-day locusts because we allegedly get our first frost 90 days after they start singing? I'm pretty sure I did, but I'm too lazy to check.

I mean I'm too busy to check.

And my intern is on break.

Anyway, even though cicadas are pretty reclusive most of the time and pretty evasive the rest, I usually do manage to see one up close on at least one day each summer.

Today just happens to have been one of those days.

I was watering my south-facing hostas when I saw it, sitting pretty on a leaf stalk.

Cicadas are pretty docile when they want to be. The one on my leaf stalk was apparently in the mood to be very docile. In fact, I thought he might be dying, so I continued my watering so he could die in peace (if that's what he was intent on doing).

Another possibility is that he had just emerged from a long sleep underground and was waiting for his wings to dry and harden after shedding his protective skin. I didn't see anything nearby that looked like a shedded skin, though, and this seems to be pretty late in the year for such carrying-ons, but... you never know with cicadas. I suspect they sometimes do things just to toy with our minds.

When I was done with the rest of my watering I came back to see how matters were progressing. The cicada seemed stronger somehow - and more alert. Or at least higher and straighter on the leaf stalk.

Did I mention that I bent over and pet him a little bit the first time I saw him? Well, I did. He didn't seem to mind. Nonetheless, I soon stopped. This being Ohio, there's probably a law against cicada petting. Or at least public cicada petting. (I think it's only in Utah that they care what you do with a cicada in the privacy of your own home.)

Our second face-to-face meeting of the day turned out to be much briefer than the first. While I stood there contemplating his big eyes and pondering whether or not to go get my camera, he flew off. Cicada take-offs are always dramatic and quick - not unlike hasty flying saucer take-offs in some old 1950s movies. They're ungainly, but incredibly fast. And they make a weird, otherworldly sound halfway between a buzzing and a clicking.

As usual, that otherworldly sound faded off into the distance all too rapidly.

Despite the lack of photographic evidence, I really *did* experience this encounter.


And with any luck at all, I'll enjoy a similar experience next summer.

In the meantime, here's a dramatic re-creation of what I saw when I first laid eyes on my hosta today.

As with most dramatic re-creations, some things might have been smaller in real life than they are made to seem in the retelling.


  1. Objects in the mirror may be smaller than they appear.
    Is this a cicada?
    I saw two just like it at Deve's Dad's Woods last week. They were lazing in the sun like you said. Each one had a little turd-looking thing next to them that now I'm wondering if it could have been their former home. I was willing to write off the first one as coincidence but the second one was the same as the first so I figure it's something. Maybe a little turd.

    Captcha is fuchaemo. Maybe that's the name of a giant mutant cicada monster in a post-Fuchishima horror movie. Ah-so.

  2. Juicy this?
    But in data we have recently collected, the Tea Party ranks lower than any of the 23 other groups we asked about — lower than both Republicans and Democrats. It is even less popular than much maligned groups like “atheists” and “Muslims.” Interestingly, one group that approaches it in unpopularity is the Christian Right.

  3. I like Deve's second comment.

    The picture made me laugh. I'm guessing you would have stopped watering and gotten your camera if it were really that big.

  4. Chirrchirrchirrchirrchirrchirrchirr!
    (Translation: Is that thousands of cicadas chirrrrping their approval of the actual entry, or is my tinnitus just acting up again?)

    Incidentally, I LOVE the graphics here! :-)