Nashville and the rest of Middle Tennessee is currently being invaded by cicadas. The brood that resides in this area is a 13-year periodical; some broods in other parts of the country are 7 or 17-year periodicals. So, every 13 years for about 6-8 weeks they sneak up from the Tennessee ground where they were born and grow, molt their exoskeletons, and find mates to make sweet cicada love with.
They're annoyingly loud, fairly ugly, and from a human perspective, overly abundant with estimates in the millions. There is a really good chance you will be pelted by one to several of them when walking outside...to your driveway. Fortunately, they are also completely harmless as long as you are not a small tree; they cut tiny slits in the limbs and trunks to lay their eggs. It's safe to say that there is not a lot of love for cicadas among adult humans. However, there is nothing like standing in a first grade classroom, as I did late last week, and watching a room full of kids truly enjoy these mysterious insects. It was amazing to see the sheer intrigue the cicadas are eliciting.
The teacher did a great job explaining the 13-year emergence. She said they come out in huge numbers every 13 years, among other reasons, as an evolutionary tactic (yes, she talked about evolution; I was thrilled). The number of insects is so large that the cicada's many predators cannot possibly wipe out the entire brood (btw, this certainly isn't stopping our dog from trying, he may have already eaten his weight in them). The teacher planned the whole week around the cicadas - math, spelling, reading, science, etc. It was a lot of fun to watch.
Less fun to watch are the exoskeletons sitting like hollow statues all over the garage, house, trees, ground, fences. They are everywhere! The first two pictures below are of exoskeletons and the next two are of adult cicadas. Each of these is from our backyard. I'll leave you with this facebook post from she who shall not be named.
"I take back what I said about the cicadas not being that bad. They are out in full force. I had numerous 'attacks' as I was walking around outside. These 'attacks' led to jumping around, screaming, and spastic hair brushing to ensure they didn't stay in my hair, which brought laughter to (and sympathy from) those walking around me!" That about sums up the 2011 Magicicada summer vacation.