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.
Cicada: TRILLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!! (90 decibels.)
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?
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?
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.
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.