Cicada, My Cicada

If you happen to live in the eastern US (and possibly elsewhere), your local paper’s doubtless run numerous cicada-themed stories, probably something along the lines of, “well sure nobody really likes them but this only happens once every 17 years (and by the way, you can eat them)”, maybe even with like a 8×8″ color photograph on the front page, enough natural science trivia for several rounds of a short-lived game show based entirely on cicada facts, should anyone decide to put one together.

And sure, it’s kind of interesting. Maybe not general public interesting enough to repeatedly fill full-sized articles day after day, week after week, but interesting. (Interesting for any number of reasons on which I won’t attempt to speculate.)

But did you know we’re covering them up—entombing them in the ground? We’re covering them up with our shopping malls and housing developments and big box retailers and massive parking lots.

I don’t know that anyone’s going to start a Save the Cicadas Fund anytime soon, but it’s important to realize things like this, particularly when they should be so obvious, but aren’t. When the simple logic that 100% of the insects that have burrowed into the ground aren’t going to be able to claw their way out (if in fact they’re still alive and not dug up and crushed by bulldozers etc., which is probably a more likely scenario) should be one of the first observations made in any article about Brood X.

Shouldn’t it?

(ScienceDaily: “Urbanization Is Devastating About-to-emerge 17-year Brood X Cicadas”, Cornell University [May 18, 2004])