For cicadas, the party's nearly over

Kevin Cowherd

I smell death in the air.

Where once the trees were alive with noise, now there's only the labored wheezing of a few desperate holdouts.

Where once there was the haunting beauty of pale-green bodies and translucent wings and beady red eyes, now the sidewalks are littered with tiny brown carcasses.

It's all over.

The Grim Insect Reaper is at the door.

Oh, god, this isn't another stupid cicada column, is it?

Man, are you milking this thing, or what? What's this, your fifth or sixth column on cicadas?

Um, actually it's my fourth.

What did you want me to write about, the tax deficit?

Besides, you know how it is. If there's still candy in the pinata, you take another whack at it.

Anyway, getting back to cicadas, Mike Raupp, the crack University of Maryland entomologist and leading cicada expert, figures the little buggers will be around until at least Friday.

But shortly after that, the bugler plays "Taps."

"There's no more recruitment," Raupp said of the cicadas, lapsing into either entomology-speak or ad-lingo for the U.S. Army. "All we're having now is die-off."

"No more recruitment" - what a beautiful term.

Actually, what Raupp means is: No more cicadas are emerging from the ground to join the ranks of adults up in the trees.

Sadly, at least if you're a cicada, this also means the end of the mating ritual.

No more Johnny Mathis albums, no more champagne, no more moonlight strolls on tree branches before the two cicada lovers throw themselves at each other in a writhing fit of passion that ... whew.

Is it me, or did it get warm in here?

Now there is nothing left but death, and the end of the sweet havoc caused by their presence.


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