Afraid of cicadas? Barely, but they might fear us

Welcome to Joe’s Guide to Dealing with Cicadas.

The endless stories about Brood X cicadas might worry you, but there’s no reason to panic.

Certainly, these insects attract attention. They remain underground for years before erupting as noisy, red-eyed creatures determined to satisfy primitive urges. So naturally, some people confuse them with right-wing militias. But you can easily distinguish between the two because cicadas are neither dangerous nor inconsistent.

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Yet when these large insects make their spectacular appearance after 17 years under the surface, it can cause consternation. I have tips for dealing with it:

Reframe the situation

Think of it this way: cicadas, while not quite adorable, only mess things up once every 17 years, do little damage, and can’t bite.

Columnist Joe Blundo

Squirrels, on the other hand, engage in an endless orgy of property destruction – breaking into attics, looting bird feeders, digging up tulip bulbs. Sometimes we even go crazy and attack a human.

So it would be much more rational for you to have cute cicada patterns on your cushions while reacting repulsively to the sight of a bushy tail. Work on it.

Ignore the hype

In the news and entertainment worlds, the big outclass the small and the truly menacing scary upgrades.

Therefore, the most dangerous non-human creature on Earth – the small, unspectacular, disease-spreading mosquito – cannot compete with sharks, murderous hornets, or even the harmless cicada.

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If the degree of peril was the real measure, Steven Spielberg should have made a movie called “Proboscis”, not “Jaws”. Cable TV shows should forget about shark sightings and feature a video of lifeguards racing to spray unsuspecting bathers with mosquito repellent.

Just because the Grasshopper catches the Kardashians’ attention doesn’t mean that other creatures (including, presumably, the Kardashians themselves) aren’t more alarming.

Eat them

If the lobster’s lack of anxiety is any indication, perhaps the way to overcome fear of a multi-legged creature is to serve it with butter. So empower yourself by munching on cicadas. Just open your mouth and wait until there is one.


Put yourself in their little shoes. What if, immediately after birth, you had to dig underground and spend 17 years sucking tree roots before emerging to mate?

(Certainly, under the influence of hormones, I could have said it was worth it at 17)

Nature presented cicadas in difficult conditions. Even the salmon, which I have great sympathy for, can splash around in the ocean for a while before swimming for miles upstream and dodging grizzly bears to spawn. At 17, wallowing in dirt seems even worse to me.

But, I repeat, there is nothing to fear from cicadas. Unless, of course, they emerge, take a look at what we’ve done to the world and dive back into the ground.

Joe Blundo is a Dispatch columnist.

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