The Big Sleep

Is over, at least for the people who reside in the region where the Thirteen-Year Periodical Cicadas live. (The seventeen-year ones will have to wait a little longer.) Huge numbers are crawling out of their bunkers over the Carolinas, Arkansas, Georgia and Mississippi. The throw off their coveralls and pump up their wings, then the partying begins. The males sing away to make the females turn into groupies. The wild times go on for a month or so with tree sap being drunk with abandon.

The inevitable result of all this wild partying is loads of new cicadas nymphs. They hatch out from eggs laid on the tree branches and rush to build their bunker ten inches underground among the roots of bushes and trees where they scrape out a meager living sucking away at the roots.

This Big Band of cicadas is known as the Great Southern Brood to the general public and to their hard-core fans as Brood XIX. Lesser bands come out to sing at other times and places, but this is the big one. Gene Kritsky of the College of Mt. St. Joseph in Cincinnati is reported as saying (1) that we should enjoy them while we can and points out that “The Iroquois ate them all the time.” I guess if you have to wait for thirteen years until your next gourmet treat, you might be tempted to overindulge when the crop is in.

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