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Health, Science, Environment

The yards are alive with the sound of cicadas

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 9, 2011 - For people who live in areas where cicadas are thriving, the noisy, flying creatures can be quite a nuisance as a recent story in the Beacon indicated. People living in other areas, however, may be wondering what all the fuss is about. Here are some responses from several sources in the Beacon's Public Insight Network to the question, "Are cicadas bugging you?"

Gary Wilson of Affton:

"I have not noticed them anywhere that I have been," Wilson wrote this week.

But things had changed by the time he was contacted by telephone on Thursday: "For the first time last night I was in the area of Lindbergh and Watson. I hadn't noticed them when I first went inside, but some other people were remarking about them, so I went outside and heard them." Now he understands what others are talking about.

Fritz Kaye of Pacific, Mo.:

"Oh, thank goodness, that's cicadas. For a while there I thought that was just the ringing in my head getting louder," Kaye wrote.

On a more serious note, Kaye said in a telephone interview Thursday that his cicada experience began earlier than for some others in the St. Louis area when he went in early May to north Georgia with his wife to help members of her family whose home was hit by a tornado.

"The cicadas were out down there before we got there. The folks there said the ground got ripped off of where [the cicadas] were settled and stirred them up." Because of the tornado damage in the Ringgold, Ga., area, Kaye said there were no standing trees. The bugs "were landing on you and became enough of a pain because they thought you were the tree," Kaye said. He added that he was more than ready for the bug season to come to an end. "I've done my time," he said.

Linda Dahlgren of Ballwin:

"It's vuvuzealous! Rising, falling, then crashing back up to full volume ... during the hottest part of the day when you're already half-crazy... this noise penetrates everything! But it's also amazing and somehow beautiful -- a rare show of pure, shrill, bug power that brings back memories of my 14th and 27th summers.

"If you have the chance to watch them, one at a time, as they emerge from their shells, it's truly a miracle of nature: they crawl out of the ground looking like a monster June bug, but then the back splits and an even-more-monstrous version of a fly wrestles its way out of the carapace ... But what amazes me most is their wings. These brownish, lumpy clots slowly stretch into long, clear, glassy wings with fine black veins running throughout. The finished cicada couldn't possibly have come from those nasty, crouched, discarded bug shells."

Loraine Miller of Manchester:

"I cannot turn on anything loud enough to drown them out. At first they were just everywhere and crawling all over my driveway and porch and covering trees and mailboxes. Now they have become dive-bombers!

"I hope this is unusual. I had a cicada on my bedpost. I grabbed some computer paper to catch it and it screamed like a little girl! They can't leave soon enough for me."

Mary Deweese of Ballwin:

The sound is "over 80 db -- [I'm] staying indoors more (and) enjoying the reprieve at night!"

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