Screaming Nostalgia: Waiting for the Cicadas to Return

Nothing screams nostalgia like cicadas for me.

Yes, that’s right, the 17 year cicadas (Brood IV) have returned to my hometown in Kansas.  Although their love screeching has died down only last week, I already miss them dearly.  I was eight years old when they last showed up and I was terrified of them.  I remember their cries and I remember their shells, but most importantly, I remember being pelted by them the moment I stepped outside.  I was terrified of them as you couldn’t go a meter before a cicada would fly haphazardly into your face like a drunken moth.  I refused to go outside after the first few attempts.

It’s funny that pure, childhood terror has transformed into complete fascination with life’s derpy animals.  I love the hell out of these guys whether they are the seventeen year or the annual brood (the “dog days” cicadas) that we get.  Summer doesn’t seem right without these animals filling the humid evenings with their songs.

My love for them have even transcended over to video games to which I’m of course referring to the Pokémon; Nincada and its evolutions Ninjask and Shedinja.  When I first played Pokémon Sapphire I would train a Nincada briefly (unique typing at the time) and would eventually move onto other Pokémon for my team.  In the Generation 6 games, I trained him again only this time training both Ninjask and Shedinja.

The fact that Ninjasks’ ability is “Speed Boost” makes it so funny in my head just imagining this huge cicada flying around all over the place and bumping into things. MEEEEEP.  Image from bulbapedia.

The Nincada evolutionary line is the Pokémonified perfection it has achieved in bringing cicadas into the Pokémon world.  Nincada looks like the nymph stage, Ninjask looks like the flying adult while Shedinja is the discarded skin of the molted adult.  Nincada is the only Pokémon to evolve into two Pokémon at once, a trait that even Eevee can’t touch.  What’s more, Nincada’s Ground/Bug typing is perfectly suited for the nymphs burial ground while Ninjasks Flying/Bug typing suits its flying stage.  But it’s the discarded Shedinja that seals the deal having achieved a Ghost/Bug type.  It’s perfect!  The shell still has its original form but now takes life as a new being!  How bizarre.  I love these guys so very much!

Pokémon aside, I have had a fascination with these insects for years now and I waited very patiently for them to finally come back.  When they did, I was ready.  For those who don’t know, I’ve been working at a plant nursery job for several summers doing general landscaping.  I was keeping an eye out for any cicadas that had crawled out of the ground when we were working on lawns.  I managed to get a few photos of their infestation.

Bunch of holes in the ground that tell where the nymphs lived

Bunch of holes in the ground that tell where the nymphs lived

cicada nymph

Caught a nymph that hadn’t molted yet

Managed to get one while it was molting

Managed to get one while it was molting

cicada shells

many of the nymphs molted on the underside of leaves

Cicada shells at tree base

A LOT of them were at the base of trees, this dog just loves eating them!

cicadas

Seriously, cicadas are basically all-or-nothing. They were either not there or they were everrrywheeeereee.

giggity

giggity

Cicada food

Yummy

During the height of their infestation, Mary and I went to a public event hosted by the natural history museum on cicadas.  There, we got to learn more about the cicadas and WE GOT TO EAT THEM TOO!  Students either fried them up, caramelized them, buffalo sauced them, or chocolate dipped them!  Oh man, I don’t normally eat bugs so I had to build myself up for that one.  I started off easy with the chocolate dipped one but then went into the buffalo sauced ones.  Then for dinner, I had some fried ones in a taco.  The best way I can describe them is that they’re a cross between a shrimp’s shell and a popcorn kernel.  Don’t know how else to describe it, it wasn’t bad though.

Man, these insects are very pretty.  Mary and I saw a girl who had a huge cicada tattoo on her back and it looked beautiful.  Cicadas have a very nice looking wing structure and they have these cute little black pupils in their huge red eyes.  They also have a nice color palate too with gold, black, and red complimenting each other nicely.  Now even am tempted to get a tattoo of one!

During my free time, I actively hunted for spots that had the highest concentration of them.  I found a few good ones where you could easily see them zooming around the trees and screaming their little heads off.  I made it a habit to find their favorite trees and pick up a few just so they could crawl around on my arms and head (I even was pissed by them a few times, haha).

 

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Now their music has died down and the females will soon lay their eggs.  I will miss them dearly.  Though we will always have the annual cicadas, I will miss the 17 year ones.  They are the best definition of nostalgia for me.  Something that happened, albeit briefly, in my childhood that had a lasting impact for the rest of my life.  A fear that transformed into fascination.  I love these animals so very much.  I look forward to seeing their offspring another 17 years from now.  And with that said

MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP

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