A Delight… Or a Disaster?

By Morgan Lane

Staff Writer

A close-up of shedded cicada shells versus a living, vibrant one. (Via: WLWT5 (NBC) )

Get those umbrellas and rackets ready. Starting in the beginning to Mid-May of 2021, the East coast will begin to be infested with large, monstrous bugs called cicadas. When the ground temperature reaches an average of around 64 degrees, the millions of Brood X, or, “Eastern Brood” cicadas will doom states such as Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Tennessee, New York, Ohio, and Indiana, among others. 

For four to six weeks, the loud cry of the cicadas will be ringing all throughout the state, even in one’s own backyard. They are only around an inch or two long, but with the overwhelming quantity of them, the sound will be nothing short of a choral disaster. The loud noise they create can reach up to 100 decibels, and they can be loud enough to cover the sound of a plane flying in the air. It’s been said that the sound tends to reduce at night. But, it is possible that stubborn outliers could stay out and disturb people’s sleep. “Cicadas are quite loud so if they do make noise at night, it’ll be hard to sleep,” says 10th grader Vy Tran. Scarily enough, Hammond’s Officer Scott adds on, “…They made a lot of noise. You hear them all night long.” But thankfully, the demon spawn only have one main reason for being above ground: to create the next generation.

In a nutshell, the generation creation cycle consists of boys crying for girls, girls going to boys, mating, egg laying, and dying. Pretty useless, right? The booming, “cacophony of stupidity,” as Hammond Teacher Mr. Livieratos describes it, is actually just mating calls. Male cicadas are making their call out to females, in order to reproduce. Once they do so, the females create small slits into tree branches to set her eggs. After the male has found a female to reproduce with and the female has laid her eggs, both will die a few weeks later, leaving the eggs on their own. These eggs will eventually hatch, and the cicadas will come out of them and make their way to the ground. For 17 years, the babies will lazily indulge in tree roots until they grow up and repeat the same process their parents did. 

For most Gen-Z highschoolers, this is the first time the generation will be able to experience seeing the gross creatures. The last generation of cicadas were here in May 2004, which parents and other adults were here to experience. The annoyance is unimaginable, but at the same time, curiosity of people will rise when they arrive. Small children, animals, and even teens and adults might be interested in touching, examining, and sighting the cicadas for research or recreational purposes. “When we were little boys, we did crazy stuff to them. We thought they were evil,” voiced Hammond academic resource teacher, Mr. Hawkins. 

Since they will only be here for a little over a month, no life altering changes will have to be made from them. Not to mention, the cicadas are harmless. The only harm they create is people’s patience levels from all the noise. Oh, and maybe the bark from small trees after the slits have been created. Surprisingly, dogs have the potential to be harmed, too. “I don’t think I really have a problem with them since they’re not hurtful, but I am a little scared because I heard if dogs eat them they could get sick, and my dogs love to eat anything that looks remotely edible,” Sophomore Kennedy Grant explained. That’s right, make sure to yell at any dog that looks hungry around the little flying beasts. According to Fox 19, in the 2004 brood invasion, a woman’s dog died from eating over 300 cicadas. Although this number seems excessive, it’s important to keep pets safe and limit their curiosity unattended. There are ways to prepare to protect pets and one’s own sanity. Check for finger sized holes in the dirt outside, which are the holes being dug by the cicadas to make way for their big entrance to the surface.

Despite the infestation of crispy, hideous, red-eyed bugs scaring half of the East Coast, the whole experience has the potential to be jaw dropping. Nature can be pretty cool sometimes–including bugs. Mr. Livieratos put things into perspective, stating, “They provide constant entertainment and companionship. Often you won’t even notice if they land on your back or shoulder, or in your hair. They are gentle beings who are simply trying to find a mate and die happy, just like us.”