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The Buzz

A 17-year hiatus remains puzzling

June 1, 2004

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A correspondent writes:

My family and I arrived in Baltimore in May 1936, with no knowledge of English, local customs or insects.

We were on the back yard with a newfound friend. She showed us a strange, large insect, one of many flying around. She mentioned that they appeared only every seventeen years!

I nodded knowingly and thought, "I must learn English soon so I will be able to understand what people are saying. Every seventeen years?"

I had heard right, but who could believe it? Now after many seasons of cicadas, I still have a problem understanding such a phenomenon of nature.

- Liesel Gross Baltimore

Baffled, enamored, freaked out by cicadas? Send your thoughts to Cicada Buzz, c/o Features Dept., The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD, 21278; or by e-mail to sun.features@ baltsun.com, subject line Cicada Buzz.