I Have Cicada Envy

I Have Cicada Envy
Image:Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images (Getty Images)

Everywhere I turn lately, there is cicada news. Cicadas are emerging in Indiana. Cicadas “came out to play” in Maryland this weekend. They’ve been spotted in greater Cincinnati. TRILLIONS of cicadas are going to emerge across 15 different states, including parts of New York. Where we’re not getting them: New York City and its surrounding suburbs, and I feel stressed. Not because I dread the noise or fear the bugs themselves. No, I am stressed because I am pretty sure I’m outside of Brood X territory, and that means I am going to miss the cicadas. I have cicada FOMO.

I understand that for many people, this would be a reprieve, not a disappointment; one of Google’s suggested follow-up questions when I was researching cicadas earlier was, “Why are cicadas so annoying?” Biologist Gene Kritsky told Atlas Obscura that during a really intense emergence, in the right area, “You’re yelling at who you’re talking to,” adding, “Even after you go inside your car and close your door, your ears are still ringing.” That sounds annoying but also extremely dramatic in a way that—I am not going to lie here—compels me quite a lot.

Admittedly, it’s possible that I am quite simply starved for novelty. The other day, I heard two cats fighting in the street, and I ran to the window to find out which of the neighborhood cats were mixing it up. It is a similar impulse that makes me want to know exactly how loud these hollering, sex-having bugs can really get.

How can you not get swept away by their excitement?

Now, an important piece of context: I grew up three miles down a dirt road in a middle Georgia river bottom and so the thunderous sound of annual cicadas was a large part of the auditory landscape of my childhood. In other words, it is possible—even likely—that there is an element of childhood nostalgia happening here. Some people long for the Nickelodeon lineup of the mid 1990s; I miss the roaring white noise of cicada calls.

Also, though, have you seen all the interviews with excited scientists? They’re so thrilled that it’s making me thrilled by association—contact thrilled, if you will. “These are one of the coolest insects out there,” gushed entomologist Paula Shrewsbury to CBS Sunday Morning recently. “It’s just one of the most spectacular phenomena in all of nature,” added her husband and fellow entomologist Mike Raupp. How can you not get swept away by their excitement? “This is a feel-good story, folks. It really is and it’s in a year we need more,” another scientist told the Guardian. “When they come out, it’s a great sign that forests are in good shape. All is as it is supposed to be.” What a perfectly lovely image!

I want the bugs in all their screaming, crawling glory. Perhaps I will simply get in my car and drive south until I hit a cloud of cicadas.

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