This June, periodical cicadas treated certain areas of the East Coast to their eerie serenade of love. Okay, some would call it less than a serenade, and granted, I wouldn't want a cicada to whisper sweet nothings in my ear at his impressive volume of 90 dB (give or take).
Entomologist Cole Gilbert finds them "amazing." And after listening to him discourse about the species over lunch late last month, I think I understand why. Cicadas (Magicicada septendecim) -- like many of the species Gilbert studies -- are just plain weird.
You could call it life imitating The Jetsons, but I feel like other portrayals of the future have featured similar contraptions. Regardless, it appears the future is now, people. Science has finally caught up with Hanna-Barbera. We're going to have food machines soon.
Although the arrival of the Brood II 17-year cicadas has been heralded for a hundred and fifty years, they have never gotten such a welcome in the media as in 2013. Nearly every news outlet is full of stories on the impending Swarmageddon, Cicadapocalypse, or other insect disaster.
I watched my sons carefully to see if they were buying into mom's passionate ode to nature. The boys seemed to be warming up to the cicadas swarming around them when several flew up and landed on Connor. "Dad!" he yelled. "Get them off me!"
Maybe those demonic brooders aren't even now lurking just below the surface of the Earth, stretching their hexad limbs and blinking awake their millions of smoldering atomic eyes after their 17-year nap.
The world is waiting. Nature often provides us with mysterious happenings that fill us with sublime awe. Why do these cicadas come out only once every 17 years? Is that not a very odd cycle to keep track of? How do they do it?