May 11, 2004

Horrible Insect Swarm to Ruin Trip

THIS IS TYPICAL. We finally get a decent summer vacation -- an entire week -- and we find our planned drive around the eastern United States may be affected by billions upon billions of evil cicada bugs, rising from the ground like some kind of satanic pestilence. While we're very glad our trip won't involve any camping, we're still a bit perturbed at this; after all, one can't have a nice week in the country if bugs as loud as automobiles are chirping throughout the nights.

Now, the scientists say that starting around today, these horrible swarms of insects will rise up from beneath the surface, mate frantically and then have the good form to die off en masse. Yet one question we haven't seen answered is how long it takes for this process to happen. Will it take one week? two weeks? three months?

Hence, if our readers happen to know the answer to this question -- either from personal experience with the dreaded swarms or via some scientific analyses -- we would very much like to learn it. Our vacation -- our first real vacation in some fourteen months -- may depend on it.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at May 11, 2004 10:41 PM | TrackBack

Well into June, my friend. Heh, it should be really interesting though. Loud, but interesting.

Posted by: simon from jersey at May 12, 2004 09:24 AM

Ben -- you grew up in Michigan -- you don't remember the last time this happened? Granted seventeen years is a long time, but we were eleven or twelve years old back then. Anyway, (1) even though Michigan is definitely prime seventeen-year cicada stomping grounds, I don't remember it being that bad, and I think they hang around for a couple weeks before mating and dying. Besides, there are other forms of ciacadas that are around every summer, making that same buzzing sounds -- these particular ones are just a bit louder.

Posted by: Geoff Brown at May 12, 2004 09:26 AM

Six weeks, my friend. Six long, disgusting weeks!

Posted by: Allison at May 12, 2004 05:11 PM

Dear God in Heaven.

Posted by: Benjamin Kepple at May 12, 2004 06:44 PM

Well, I don't think it's so bad as you all seem to be. Granted, I'm a biologist by training, but I also hate bugs. So if I'm not worried, people ought to calm down a bit. Although I have read articles cautioning people to monitor their pets' consumption of the cicadas, which are apparently tasty, protein-rich morsels to our four-legged friends, but they are also high in chitin (the stuff which makes up the exterior of bugs, shrimp, etc) and many pets can get digestive problems if they ingest too much chitin. So there is that.

Posted by: Geoff Brown at May 13, 2004 09:58 AM

Never mind the pets' indigestion -- what happens if I inadvertently swallow a bunch of them as they swarm around me in a malevolent manner? Well? What then? Then I'm in REAL trouble!

Posted by: Benjamin Kepple at May 14, 2004 09:51 AM