Monday, August 27, 2012

This Thing Flew Down My Shirt

The other day, while taking one of my frequent after work inspections of the Garden (and running a list of things that need done in my head as if I had an actual crew), I was attacked from overhead. Or maybe from the side. Who knows from what direction this thing came flying at me. It hit me in the back of the head and then dropped DOWN THE COLLAR OF MY SHIRT!!!!

Now, there was a long standing prank at the Deck where one Bailey the Bartender had a cicada put down the back of his shirt and it was hilarious. At least I (and everyone else present) thought it was hilarious. Bailey the Bartender did not. I now, unfortunately, must agree with him. It is not hilarious. It is strange and scratchy and sick and disgusting and somewhat crunchy. 

Ugh.

Honestly, it looks like an alien. The genus of the Cicadidae family most prevalent in the United States is the Tibecen genus (though there are many different species). They are "annual cicadas", unlike those disgusting, red-eyed monsters known as the 13 or 17 year cicadas. They are true horrors.

These aren't really "annual" cicadas, however. They appear annually because generations have overlapped.   The nymphs spend two or three years underground feeding on the xylem of tree roots (a type of water and nutrient transporting tissue found in vascular plants) before emerging in late July or August, thus the nickname "Dog Day Cicada". They aren't locusts (closely related to grasshoppers), nor are they katydids (a close cousin of crickets). I guess they are sort of interesting to look at. 


Once they emerge as adults, they continue to feed on xylem, only this time by piercing plants with their beak and then drinking with their proboscis. Disgusting. What's even more disgusting is that, although not prone to hurting humans, they sometimes get confused and pierce your skin!!! Thankfully this only happens when they are allowed to rest on a person's body for an extended amount of time. Thank God I was able to shake this guy out of my shirt!

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