We are currently nearing the end of a relatively mild summer and for some reason we appear to have struck an influx of cicadas in recent weeks. Cicadas are synonymous with the Kiwi Summer, their loud trill of a song commonplace in all childhood memories. But I have no recollection of ever seeing and hearing so many before.
They seem to be everywhere at present – on the footpath, on trees, even in my house. I’m not a squeamish bug person but I take exception to being dive-bombed by a cicada while enjoying my evening Child Free time!
So, all these cicadas got me thinking, where the heck have they all come from? And what are they?
Some interesting facts about Cicadas:
- There are 42 species and sub-species of cicada unique to New Zealand. What!? 42?! That’s a lot.
- The largest has a wingspan of 80 mm. That must be the fellow who hit me in the face while I was out walking this morning.
- They arrived in New Zealand within the last 11 million years. They are practically newborns!
- Female cicadas lay their eggs on plants above ground, and then emerge wingless nymphs who drop to the ground and burrow into the soil. Some as deep as 1m! You go, you crazy wingless nymphs!
- No one knows quite how long cicadas live for, but some species live underground for at least three years and probably up to five. That seems remarkably long for an insect.
- One North American species lives for seventeen years. SEVENTEEN YEARS. Shut the front door.
- When the cicada emerges from underground, it sheds it’s empty nymph case behind once it’s wings are hard enough to fly. And it’s off for two-to-four relaxing weeks of mating, laying eggs and generally trilling happily in trees.
Some not-so-interesting facts about Cicadas:
- They are everywhere. EVERYWHERE.
- Nymph shells are irresistible, particularly to 4 year olds. They are, in fact, a collectable item.
- Nymph shells have sticky feet. Ask Princess’s friend who discovered this and “surprised” his Nan with them stuck all over his face.
- Cicadas are relatively easy to catch. And hold by the wings as you, say, eat your lunch. Or watch TV, perhaps.
- Nymph shells crumble. Particularly exciting to crumble them all over the floor of the playroom, apparently. Do you know what’s not exciting? Walking into the playroom to find Baby Girl with a cicada leg hanging out of her mouth. *vomit*
- Cicadas are noisy. Not necessarily unpleasant, just loud.
Cicadas. I have a lot more respect for the noisy little blighters now that I know they live for so long underground, those funky little drab, ground-dwelling nymphs. But, I won’t lie when I say I’ll be glad when this influx has passed. I’m a little tired of vacuuming nymph shells out of the carpet, finding them on the wall and stopping fifteen times on the way home from Kindy to add a few more to the container. We’ve researched cicadas, we’ve learned a lot and now I’m ready to move on. I think the key to successful parenting is to allow children the opportunity to grow and learn at every opportunity, whilst not projecting your own hang-ups onto them. Like I said, I am not a squeamish bug person but even I draw the line at carrying them. And, no matter how nicely Princess’s little friend asked me, I will not, repeat will not put them on my face.