Interview with a Cicada

By:

Robin Mountjoy

May 5, 2013

This spring is cicada season, where a swarm of these large, winged, red-eyed insects is descending on the mid-Atlantic region. Here at Connor’s, we’re very familiar with cicadas… but since they only come to visit every 17 years, you may not be. So we sat down with one to ask a few questions.

cicada sitting on fingerConnor’s: Welcome to Metro DC! Can you give us a little background on yourself and where you’re from?

Cicada: Thanks! I’ve really been enjoying my time here. My family and I have been seeing the whole region, from the Carolinas up to as far north as Connecticut, and we’re really loving the warmer weather. We’re originally from underground, so this is quite a change.

Connor’s: You’re from underground?

Cicada: That’s right. We’ve been living underground since about 1996 after we were born from eggs in trees. So we’ve spent the last 17 years killing time in the dark and feeding off of tree roots. It’s nice to see daylight finally! A lot has changed since ’96 though. All my clothes are out of style.

Connor’s: Some people have asked—aren’t there usually cicadas around? Why is this year special? 

Cicada: Oh, sure there are annual cicada gatherings, but those are a different type… our more common cousins. They don’t have our gorgeous big red eyes, either. We’re from a group called “Brood II,” and not to toot our own horn, but the red-eyed broods like us are a little more special.

Connor’s: So, what are your plans while you’re here? 

Cicada: Well, we only have a few weeks, so we’ve got a lot to do on a pretty tight timeline. When we come up out of the ground, we’re just nymphs, so our first order of business is to get to a tree or shrub usually. After that, we shed our exoskeletons… kind of like putting on a new outfit, before we head out on the town for our main objective: finding a mate. Mostly while we’re here, we’ll be flying around and singing to attract other cicadas. But we’re pretty disappointed the Washington Monument is closed to visitors right now. The last red-eyed brood that came to this area, back in 2004, kept telling us it was a “can’t miss” attraction.

Connor’s: That’s too bad. So, don’t take this the wrong way, but a lot of humans are kind of anxious about you cicadas blanketing the region. What would you like to say to them?

Cicada: “We come in peace.” Just kidding, I know it can get annoying to have guests overstay their welcome. But hey, we’re harmless, we don’t bite, we’re only here a few weeks, and you won’t see more of us until the next brood, probably in 2021. So let’s enjoy the short time we have together! And listen, we really are sorry about leaving all our exoskeletons lying around your yards and sidewalks.

Connor’s: How about your singing? That really seems to get on peoples’ nerves.

Cicada: What do you expect, we’re 17 years old… nobody likes teenagers’ music!