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Cicadas
Commentary by: Don Corrigan
Aired June 13, 2011


Those noisy, nasty, nymphomaniac nuisances known as cicadas are now driving many folks in the St. Louis area — “buggy.”

Like a plague, they’ve come out of the ground by the millions.

They’ve left their ugly exoskeletons everywhere: on front doors, brick walls, tree branches. They’ve emerged from their brown shells as a large, red-eyed, veiny-winged menace. And they are noisy.

Gardeners are getting an earful of them. Landscapers are losing their cool. The cable guy in your backyard has gone crazy because of them. Golfers are blaming everything from wayward drives to lousy putts on cicadas interrupting their concentration.

They jump on people. They jump on lawn mowers. They jump on golf carts. They like the motor’s vibration. It makes them think the cart is one giant cicada. And they want to mate with it. After all, that is what these bugs have come out of the ground to do — after 13 years – to have sex and to pro-create.

Then there’s all that Cicada Racket. Oh, yes, that noise! When the cicadas “de-shell” and fly off, the females get ready to reproduce, and the males start their “chorus singing” to attract the females.
The males make all the racket, which is a rhythmic shrill.

The male song is an annoying, high-pitched, incessant cadence. It begins at dawn and ends at night. As it gets hotter during the day, the cicadas only get louder.

And with our record-breaking, globally-warmed temperatures this June, the cicada volume is record-breaking – deafening. Our ear drums are shattering. It’s all like some horrible Hollywood insect horror film.

It brings to mind the Japanese horror film, “Mothra,” of 1961.

Or the 1955 Hollywood spider horror, “Tarantula.”
Or 1977’s scare-mongering “Empire of the Ants.”
Or even 1993’s invasion of engorged, blood-sucking “Ticks.”

Only this cicada invasion of 2011 is absolutely for real — and it’s in your own backyard.

You can’t do much about them, say the expert entomologists. Even if you do find several cicadas in your trees and slay them, there will be more in your neighbor’s trees and more in your nearby woods.

There are too many cicadas for a few slayings here or there to have much impact. Poisons aren’t effective, according to the experts, because the critters aren’t interested in eating or ingesting anything. They have one thing on their minds — reproducing.

Well, we don’t have to roll over and play dead like the victims in “Mothra,” or “Tarantula,” or “The Ticks.” It’s time to think “Starship Troopers,” a movie in which the humans fight back against giant, alien bugs.

And think about this: Cicada Cuisine. You can now go to the Internet and find recipes for cicada cheese wontons, curried cicadas with chickpeas, German chocolate cake cicadas and El Chirpo Tacos.

If you can’t beat them, eat them.

The invasion of the 13-year cicadas will come to an end in a few weeks. But don’t forget to file those cicada recipes some place where you can get your hands on them again. After all, 13 years from now these cicadas’ grubby kids will be crawling out of the ground, and we can start this all over again!


(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)

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Don Corrigan

Don Corrigan

Commentator

Don Corrigan has served for more than 30 years as a professor of journalism at Webster University in St. Louis. In addition to his work in the academia, Corrigan is editor and co- publisher of the two suburban weeklies, Webster-Kirkwood Times and South County Times. He is a frequent writer for St. Louis Journalism Review, where he has served on that publication's editorial board for more than 30 years. Corrigan also has published several books.

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