Wednesday, June 9, 2021

I Hear a Symphony by Hannah Rowan #RomanceGems

 Here in New Jersey, and no doubt in many other parts of the Eastern US, we’re being treated to courtship rituals of epic proportions. Namely, the emergence of the cicada brood known as Brood X, which is the largest group to emerge en masse once every 17 years.

Their presence is unmistakable in the areas where they appear. The nymphs burrow out of the ground and make their way to the treetops, where they shed their shells to reveal a fairly frightening looking creature only another cicada could love.

Cicadas are the original litterbugs. Once they arrive their discarded shells litter the ground. They spread their newly hatched wings and wait a few days to harden, and then the fun begins, because their entire purpose is to find a mate.

Teenagers and rock stars blasting their music have nothing on these little guys. The din of what seems to be loosely translated as the male trilling “come on, honey, I’m up here in the treetops waiting for you” is overwhelming as thousands of males rub their legs together to produce a raspy, crickety symphony, which in concert is about equivalent to a jet engine, maybe.

Who knows how the ladies choose their ideal mate? Is it the bug with the loudest song, the highest perch on the tree, the most attractive wings?

The entire production lasts about a month, during which people are subjected to swarms of flying insects, followed by the corpses of the satiated adults dropping from the trees. Because once the male lures the female and fertilizes her eggs, his job on earth is done, and he’s done for. Mama cicada follows soon after, once she lays her eggs in a tree branch. Baby cicadas hatch, fall from the trees, and burrow into the earth to wait for the next 17-year mating party.

In the meantime, medical professionals are issuing warnings that people who are allergic to shellfish shouldn’t eat the little buggers, which certainly wouldn’t be the first thing coming to my mind when it’s time for dinner. 

Even stranger, a Princeton High School insect-eating club (INSECT EATING CLUB??? Seriously? I thought Princeton produced unusually intelligent people!) is planning a taste-testing event to decide which cicada recipe is yummiest. 

To top it off, cicadas are vulnerable to a fungus which (I am not making this up) causes their butts to fall off to be replaced with a blob of fungus the size of a pencil eraser, but more importantly does something to their brains which scientists, in a very professional way, say makes them unusually horny. (Yes, you read that right.) This causes the cicada to mate with even more partners, resulting in the spread of a cicada-STD.

How appropriate that this all takes place in June, a month dedicated to weddings.  Is Mother Nature a hopeless romantic who planned it that way?

And aren’t you glad human courtship is not quite so gruesome?

Romance Gems celebrate June brides this month! 
Please take time to add some of our brides to your summer reading list!


  1. We were in TN years ago when their cicadas came out of the ground after years and years. Little round holes everywhere. Yes, we could hear them, but what was a little stranger was the pale shells they left behind when they left the earth. They were everywhere and like ghost bugs. Memorable. at that time, no one I knew was eating them, but new diets come into fashion. I'll vouch, I won't be trying one.

  2. I haven't seen them yet, although the cotton's blowing off the cottonwoods big time. Makes me wonder if they interbreed...

  3. I don’t understand the desire to eat them. But thanks a ton for the smiles today, Hannah!

  4. An insect eating club? Huh. Wow. Not for me, but if they want to then go for it! Who knows? Maybe they'll discover something that helps people lose weight faster? Thank you for the laughs today!

  5. Oh, my!! That's way more than I ever wanted to know about Cicadas! Glad they don't come quite as north as NH!

  6. Interesting tidbit of info. Like Kari,I'm glad they're not in my 'hood.

  7. Loved this post! Favorite part: "they shed their shells to reveal a fairly frightening looking creature only another cicada could love." I didn't know all this about cicadas, but it's interesting. I'm extremely allergic to shellfish, so I guess I can't feast on them. Well, darn it. ;)

  8. Okay, since I thought about your post and our theme I can't get the image of a little cicada wedding out of my head. (The bride was beautiful, by the way.) ;)

  9. What an entertaining post. So they mate, the male croaks of a heart attack. The female gets pregnant, delivers and croaks. So much for a Happily Ever After. I've gotten my daily laugh. Love this.

  10. What a fun post, Hannah! We only have a few cicadas in North Central Texas. I'm glad to know more about them, especially since you made it humorous.

  11. Bad timing. In the paper the next day they printed actual recipes for cicada sushi, cicada tempura...just NO!!!

  12. Wow. All I can say is I'm glad we don't have cicadas here. Am I the only one who thinks, "I'd never kiss a guy who eats insects?"


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