Every seventeen years, they say

Two cicadas

Two cicadas

They started appearing about 2 weeks ago. Then they stopped for a few days, probably because we had a sudden cold snap. But now sitting outside for any length of time one risks deafness because of the love-starved males “singing” in the trees all around.

There are three species of magicicada in this Brood V. The males, I’ve been told, gather high up in the trees, grouped according to species, and serenade their prospective mates. The females, attracted only by the song of their own species, flock upward to join the males for a brief visit. After mating the females seek out tender tree branches, dig holes in them to lay their eggs, and die. Before the eggs begin hatching all the adults will be dead, heaps of rotting carcasses, too many for even the ants to remove. When the nymphs emerge they drop to the ground and burrow to the first tasty tree root. For the next seventeen years they stick around underground, never traveling far from where they first burrowed into the ground, spending their time sucking on tree roots.

More cicadas

More cicadas

We have some young fruit trees — a pear, a peach, and a cherry we planted over the past few years plus three apples we planted this year. And hearing about the damage that the cicadas can inflict, especially on young fruit trees, we decided to try to protect them. We went down to Southern States and got a roll of frost blanket — Lisa says it’s just like non-woven interfacing — and I made six big bags out of it. For the time being we have six odd ghosts standing in the yard; I hope when I take the bags off in a month or so, when the cicada onslaught has finished, that our trees will still be healthy.

Bagged fruit trees

Bagged fruit trees

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