Cicadas – a diary

I first heard the cicadas in my garden on June 1st in my area of the Mid-Hudson Valley. They are not very loud in my backyard but other people have complained the noise is so loud it keeps them awake at night and they have to use ear plugs to deaden the sound. How do they sound? If you have ever traveled by tram and heard the noise on the overhead wires before a tram arrives – that’s the sound, a sort of tense, low, whining buzz, a little eerie to be sure. Driving along one country road the sound fluctuates, in some places very load, then growing quieter as you drive a few meters further. This indicates that locally, there may be places where there is an abundance of cicadas, in other places, less.

Cicada drying itself out after a thunderstorm

Cicada drying itself out after a thunderstorm

In flight they resemble large orange moths and they fly at a similar speed to a butterfly or moth, usually heading for a shrub or tree. There are large numbers of adults clinging to branches and crawling on the ground and many are squashed on the road by cars. Looking carefully, I can see the exit holes in the soil and of course there are hundreds of abandoned exoskeletons still attached to plants/shrubs and on every flat surface outside.

Cicada exit hole (Nickle placed alongside to show size)

Cicada exit hole (Nickle placed alongside to show size)

Per Wikipedia they are a good source of protein and the chipmunks are certainly enjoying eating them, they leave behind the parts they don’t like – wings, the hard outer shell of the abdomen and the head. These parts are scavenged by ants. I read cicadas are edible but I am hesitant to try cooking and eating them myself, even though free food is always a good thing. Second thought, having conversed with friends on Facebook I think I’ll Google for a recipe and try cooking them. (It will come as no surprise that my son instantly said “No!” when I asked him it he’d eat one) With the Foodie movement encouraging us ‘Eat Local’ I am surprised our restaurants have not featured cicadas on the menu as seasonal item – how about deep-fried cicada as a starter? Or kebabs?

As you have probably heard, the Hudson Valley cicadas have a 17 year cycle and are called Brood II. Although many of my friends can’t stand them I feel lucky to be able to observe one of nature’s events and grateful that humans have not messed it up (yet)

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