Ode to the Locust

Can you really write an ode to something you despise? Something that makes you, a normally fearless person in the face of spiders, snakes and even hissing cockroaches (another reason to be happy I wasn't born on Madagascar), run away like a little girl, waving her arms over her head?

Unless you are one of those culinary devotees who enjoy adding these insects to your pasta sauce or ice cream topping, can anyone really laud the return of these clumsy, fracking LOUD creatures? (And really, why am I OK with ripping the heads off of crawfish, dipping the abdomen of monstrous, clawed beasts into lemony butter, and cracking the legs of ginormous underwater bugs that would send us running for the hills if they came crawling out of the woods? Why the double standard of paying top dollar to dine on aquatic beasts -vs- snacking for free off of their terrestrial brethren? Upon reading this to Scott, he recommended us hosting a Locust Boil. Mmmm... No.)

Ahem. Let us pay our respects to The Brood. In Illinois, we are blessed with the 17 year locusts. Someplaces entertain the 13 or even 7 year ones, poor souls. And while these tend to be smaller than the annual visitors and gilded in gold, still...eewww.

The last time we had those insects crawl up from their long slumber was in 2007. Their emergence was called Brood XIII. Seriously. Does that mean that once upon a time, in 1786, 221 years prior, some scientist said, (and I am positive it went exactly like this) "Hey, these loud, largish bugs have yet again returned. I dare say, I recall these buggars appearing in mass numbers back when my young Chelsea was born, some 17 years ago. Mayhaps we should  start following these insects and in 17 years time, if these chaps come back around, well, they'll be Brood III. Yes. Quite. Now, where did I put my tea?"

I am sure there is information out there on how this all came about, and I just did the simple math of 13 x 17, but honestly, if I were to research, I would have to look at a photo, or perpaps several photos of these dudes.

No thanks. Sticking with my speculations.

In 2007, luckily for my family and my sanity, our town wasn't badly infested for some reason. I mean, we have old trees and old houses, but not as many locusts, while in neighboring Glenview, they were nailed. Piles and piles of shells decaying under old trees. Based on reports from east of the river, I speculated that it was worse on that side of the Des Plaines River, but have no proof, because, again... ew.

On a visit to a nature center there, we got out of the car, and I thought to myself, wow, that construction is really loud. To my dawning horror, I realized the din was the screeching of several million (Billion?) FLYING insects. We piled back into the car and left.

I remember when Brood XII came out the year before I graduated college, my mom said that they covered the lawn of her woodland yard. She said there were hundreds of critters -raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks- outside gorging themselves on yummy locusts like they were popcorn, they ate until their furry bellies were distended.

Brood XI, I was 4 or 5, and remember collecting hundreds of their shells until I had a pile of them. Gross.

Anyway... why all the to-do about locusts today, and this not even a Brood year?

I was walking this morning, and came across a slow moving cicada shell. Oh, man! Then I saw another. And another. Then several smashed ones. Then I pondered smashing them too, but despise them as I do, I just can't. I'd like to say it's because I love all living things, but I happily kill ants. No.

I did not want to have to feel the splat of that thing under my sandal. (My apologies if you are eating. Hope that oatmeal is yummy!).

Welcome back cicadas or locusts or whatever you are called. I am not happy to see you, less happy to dodge your bumbling fly-bys, and least happy to have to yell just to be heard over your constant din.

There goes our peaceful solitude of summer...

Ay, Mama!

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