Interview with a Cicada

June 2, 2013 | By | Comments (2)

Red eyes bulging, this 17-year cicada is looking for love in all the wrong places. Photo: Buggs Hemiptera.

By now, you’re aware that a plague of 17-year cicadas in parts of the South is causing many people to go deaf. But why? Today, in a Grumpy Gardener Exclusive Report, I sat down with one of those remarkable insects to find out the reason.

Grumpy: Welcome to the Grumpy Gardener.


Grumpy: OK, stop that. It’s very annoying. Besides, do I look like a female cicada?

Cicada: Sorry, force of habit. I’m a little nervous. Any female cicadas around here?

Grumpy: No.

Cicada: Aw, man!

Grumpy: You are what’s known as a 17-year cicada. Could you explain to our readers what this means?

Cicada: Well, we begin our lives by dropping to the ground from slits carved into the ends of branches by our mothers.

Grumpy: These slits then kill the branch tips. Small trees can be mutilated.

Cicada: Sorry, but expectant mothers have tunnel vision. All they care about is giving birth.

Grumpy: Don’t I know it. When my son was born, I missed half of the Super Bowl.

Cicada: Cry me a river! I missed the last 17!

Grumpy: I feel your pain. Please continue. You were describing your life cycle.

Cicada: Well, after we baby cicadas hit the ground, we burrow deep into it. Then we spend the next 17 years tunneling around eating tree roots.

Grumpy: What’s like like?

Cicada: Dark. Really dark. Then after 17 years, we emerge from the ground by the billions.

Grumpy: No kidding. My lawn has more holes in it than Lance Armstrong’s confession.

Cicada: Then if you’re a dude, you go cruising for chicks. Know how we find them?

Grumpy: E-Harmony?

Cicada: We flex these drum-like organs in our abdomens called cymbals to create an extremely loud love song that chicks find irresistible so we can mate with them. TRILLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!! (100 decibels.)

Grumpy: (covering ears) Pull the plug on that, will ya? Geez, Louise!

Cicada: Sorry, got a little excited. I haven’t had any in 17 years.

Grumpy: So the life of a cicada is kind of like marriage for humans.

Cicada: That’s true.

Grumpy: Except, of course, that after you mate and the lucky lady lays her eggs, you all die.

Cicada: What???

Grumpy: All the adult cicadas in your particular brood die within a couple of weeks.

Cicada: Are you sure? I hadn’t heard that. Aw, man! There are so many things still on my bucket list! I want to see Paris. I want to meet Ryan Seacrest. I want to taste Marmite.

Grumpy: Well, I’m sorry, but none of those things are going to happen. Do you have any last words for our readers?

Cicada: TRILLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!! (120 decibels.)

Grumpy: (stomps cicada) I hate bugs.


  1. Kita Murdock

    For parents looking to explain the cicadas to your kids, check out Cecily Cicada:

    June 2, 2013 at 5:10 pm
  2. Steve

    A word from 1954, a seven-year old’s memory of ‘man-eating’ cicadas: .

    June 2, 2013 at 10:47 am

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