Cicada 2021: After the Party
With the raspy buzz silenced, all that is left to see is the very beginning of the Cicada Invasion of 2038. And it is a tiny beginning to be sure.
Our lawns are keeping us busy picking up the small branches from the treetops above. The female cicadas made the journey specifically to inject eggs into the underside of the tender twigs from which the leaves grew. The injection process left a chain of small stitch-like marks, each containing one or more egg. The damage to the tree itself is negligible, but the trauma to the twig weakened it enough to break off in wind or rain.
The eggs are now hatched, and the Cicadas are in the larva stage. If you carefully dissect the twig, you can shake a few out. They are tiny, only about 1/16 inch long, and less than 1/64 inch in diameter. Put a drop of water on it, and it will wiggle a bit for you.
In the normal course of events, the twig would decompose on the ground, and the larva would sink into the ground. After a few molts, it would eventually get down to the tree roots. There, it would attach itself to get nourishment from the tree’s sap.
But our custom is to keep our lawns neat, so the twigs go out with the lawn waste collection. This will not be good for 2038’s brood. Perhaps they would stand a better chance if we mowed over the twigs?
At any rate, it was quite a show. Great learning experience for the kids. And for reflecting on all creatures, big and small, that can be amazing, each in its own way.