It’s BROOD X, BABY! Brood X is back in a big way and they’re ready to crawl around and make some noise and breed and also get eaten by some birds! BROOD X IN DA HOUSE.
On the news I’ve heard them say “Brood ten” but I personally prefer the “Brood EXXX” pronunciation because it’s WAY MORE BADASS and these bugs are BADASS AS FUQ.
I spent some time communing with them this past weekend and I’d like to give you a full report.
First of all, I was super pumped for them to come out.
I knew they were coming because we all did, and I started to think about the last time they were here. When the cicadas came out 17 years ago in 2004 I was 19 years old, between my freshman and sophomore year of college. It was an interesting time. It felt tumultuous but I think I was just dramatic. I remember thinking about what my life would be like now, 17 years from then. And I reflected on it like “the next time these cicadas come, who will I be?” I didn’t think about how old I would be, it wasn’t a number. It was more a…vibe? What would my LIFE VIBE be. I kind of didn’t know. I just wondered.
It’s weird how something that happens periodically can be used to track growth or decline or whatever. The cicadas, the olympics, the seasons. A reference point for a place and a space in time and the person we were at that particular space and place.
Back then I was off school for the summer and working at our community pool as a lifeguard and also teaching cheerleading camp. I definitely had more than one “boyfriend”…IT WAS THE NAUGHTY AUGHTIES. Also I was 19. Like come on. Who DIDN’t have more than one “boyfriend”?!
I remember partying like all night every night and sneaking into the pool we worked at for late night swims. Legit scaling a large fence and running and jumping into the pool. Shh, don’t tell my old boss.
I guess that was probably illegal.
During the day the cicadas took over THE WORLD and crashed into everything and made little kids cry and many dogs ate them and barfed. It was a whole thing.
Back then I tried to think about/remember if I had seen them 17 years before THEN, in 1987, but I only would have been 2 years old so I didn’t remember. Apparently they were around, but more in Long Island. I guess. According to the Internet.
So fast forward to now and I am who I am now and only have one boyfriend (like a real one, no “quotations,” a significant improvement from multiple in quotations ones) and I was excited for them to come back around mostly because I love birds and especially my mom’s chickens and they love to feast on regular-ass end-of-the-summer cicadas so I thought they would be PUMPED to feast on a whole big swarm of them.
It’s part of their cicada strategy! There are so very many of them that they expect to, as a majority, get gobbled up by predators. They “expect” it from like an evolutionary level. I don’t think they really planned this with actual cicada thought processes.
Or maybe they did.
BUT there are so many that even though a ton get eaten there are still a healthy amount of them that breed and produce larvae and the larvae end up underground and the whole party starts again.
Unfortunately there weren’t very many at my parents’ house this time. They live in a river valley and I wonder if that has something to do with it but what do I know. My sister’s house, on the other hand, HAD A TON. And it’s very near the pool I once worked at that also had a ton. Both places are at a high elevation for the area. Maybe that has something to do with it but again what do I know.
Either way I made my parents take me up there so I could see more than the insufficient amount of periodical cicadas I was seeing at their house.
We got out of the car and could hear a low echoing creepy sound. They make the craziest weirdest robot dinosaur alien sound. I don’t even know what it comes from as far as a part of their body generating it but it’s kind of like a weird screech or scream. There are groups of them in trees and grass kind of constantly singing and calling out to each other, but if you pick one up or it flies into you and gets pissed it FREAKS THE HECK OUT. I mean I don’t know if they can get mad, I think they’re just disoriented and screaming out to their pals for validation or whatever.
They seem to have a lot of trouble navigating, overall. They just kind of randomly fly around and bump into stuff. I question whether their freaky red eyes can even see sight. I guess I should Google it.
If I looked up toward the sun, I could see them skittering past in a flutter of translucent wings. In some spots it was a cloud of them, in others just a few random stragglers.
There were a ton of them dead on the road, on the sidewalk, in the swimming pool.
One day we went back to the river at my parents’ house and the Brood X crew seemed to be having a ton of trouble dealing with open water. The dragonflies mocked the cicadas that fell to their demise, their thin wings so wet they could never fly again, screaming as they were swept away by the current.
I used a small stick to save a few, mostly because I wanted to pick them up and check them out. Fish jumped up out of the water to eat the others.
IT WAS A FRENZY.
Overall it was most weird to hear the cicada noise at the beginning of the summer instead of at the end. There are always regular cicadas every summer and I’m sure they’ll be back this year in August, but it’s a very “end of summer” feeling I get when I hear that sound and I had to keep reminding myself it’s still the beginning.
IT IS STILL THE BEGINNING, YOU GUYS.
I’m pretty sure they’re fading away now and they’ll all be dead soon, and the larvae will be safe underground to appear again in 17 years.
Who will we be then?! What will be our life vibe?! How many boyfriends will we have?! WILL THE ACTUAL ALIENS COME TO SAVE US FROM OURSELVES?! I guess we’ll have to wait and see.