Attack of the Cicadas

By MATTHEW TANG, sophomore

By now, we’ve all taken some sort of action in response to the long-awaited arrival of the cicadas. We have hardened our souls — or should I say soles — to trample countless creatures beneath our feet on the way to school, and maybe even harassed others by filling a plastic container to the brim with these repulsive insects. As we look around outside, we cannot begin to comprehend what we did to bring this plague upon ourselves. Cicadas. They are exactly what their name implies: sick. With over a billion individuals comprising a single brood, they will inevitably take over our humble town of Edison. Every street will soon be covered by old shells from the molting phase of their life cycle, and every tree branch will hold countless cicadas obnoxiously “singing” their chorus to find mates nearby.But the real question is whether the/ word “sick”….. denotes “disgusting”or “awesome.”

It would be safe to assume that most of the student body would be in the former group.. They distinguish themselves from the rest by releasing warning..\ shrieks that.. signal close ..proximity to one of these creatures, and by always traveling in groups of at least two when outside. This is to ensure that an arm is available to grab upon sighting any one of these creatures. After all, that’s the only possible course of action when such a monstrous insect stares blankly at you with its red, beady, rat’s eyes. However, this safety-in-numbers attitude is no match for the cicada, whose population outnumbers Edison’s human inhabitants ten thousand-to-one. This is what causes the “radicals” to speak out. These people, only half-jokingly, plead with their parents to pack up and move to the other side of the country. They present their arguments to their guardians as if their fears were rational: “Well, you see, this brood was born 17 years ago, while I, on the other hand, am only 16. I believe that since they were here first, we should leave.” Or to more grade-conscious parents, “I think that the screams of the cicadas are affecting my concentration during tests, so we should move to a new school district, preferably far, far away from the East Coast.”

But on the other side of the cicada opinion spectrum, there lies the Cicadian Enthusiast Party, a group of very few who bravely defend the cicada. They find pleasure in collecting and storing them for who-knows-what. These rare individuals gladly open their windows, allowing the cicada to waddle in and infest their homes. They even find pleasure in the fact that these broods of cicadas only appear every 17 years, and they feel the urge to make the most of the rare opportunity. Thus, this minority of cicada lovers frequently take selfies with them and make sure that their houses are the perfect temperature for the cicada’s metabolic processes. This curiosity about the cicada might just stem from their biological wonder, or perhaps some other reason — the truth is we will never know.
These insects have garnered so much attention for their one unique trait: evolution has allowed for their life cycles to become synchronized and, because they have power in numbers, no predator has been or will be able to wipe them out. Slow and plump, they make perfect prey for birds, but their sheer quantity fills every single bird up, accounting for the phenomenon known as “predator satiation.” There are simply too many cicadas for the birds to eat, and therefore, Edison will be sure to witness the rise of the next generation of our winged pest friends in the not-so-far-away future. It seems like we’ll never be able to get rid of them.

Cicadas are more than just disgusting; they’re also a disgustingly sappy metaphor for life.

These critters lie dormant for 17 years, preparing and waiting for their entrance into the world, and when they finally emerge, they immensely impact our lives, for no matter how brief of a time. And in the same way, we prepare for arduous years throughout our schooling days for the real world. When we.finally graduate, we need to follow the cicadas in their path, and “be the change we wish to see in the world.” See? Sappy. So even though I’m not exactly a big fan of them, the next time I’m ready to crush a cicada, I’ll pause and put myself in the cicada’s shoes. When I’m ready to make a difference in the world, I hope nobody tries to step on me.

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