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Prepare yourselves... the cicadas are coming!


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Here in Indiana, these damn things get so loud, you can barely hear another person speaking to you outdoors, even if they're standing just inches away from you because the chirpy sound that the cicadas make is so loud and shrill. Still, you can always tell when you're in the heart of summertime, because there's always something missing until you hear the sound of the cicadas at dusk.

I even remember finding their little "shells" clinging onto the bark of trees when I was a kid.

The Boston Globe

Midwesterners brace for noise and mess with return of cicadas

CHICAGO -- Normally, this would be the beginning of the busy season at Jim Nadeau's ice-sculpting company.

But when the phone rings, Nadeau tells confused Chicago-area brides and party planners that they might want to postpone their events. "The cicadas are coming!" he tells them.

"You don't know how disgustingly bad they can be," said Nadeau, 53, who has been carving ice figures for the past 27 years in Forest Park, Ill.

"The last time they were here, I watched one of my simple swans at a wedding reception get covered with these black, crawling bugs -- and the swan was sitting in the middle of the food table," Nadeau said. "The swan was 4 feet tall and weighed 300 pounds."

All across the Midwest, people are bracing themselves for a noisy, messy month. After spending the customary 17 years underground, a strain of cicadas classified as Brood XIII, have begun to emerge.

In coming days, the cicadas -- with orange eyes and inch-long bodies -- are expected to swarm sections of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin for their breeding season. After the bugs emerge from the soil and shed their exoskeleton, the males emit a sound to attract females. The tone, a cross between a whirring blender and a motorcycle engine, can hit as high as 90-plus decibels.

The females, in turn, climb onto tree branches and tender trunks, slice into the bark and lay their fertilized eggs. Although the egg-laying process can damage tree branches, they're more annoying than threatening to people. Scientists predict there will be a massive swarm of them this year -- as many as 1.5 million bugs per acre, particularly in wooded areas where the soil has remained relatively undisturbed over the years. Adult cicadas live aboveground between two and six weeks.

Tom Tiddens, supervisor of plant healthcare for Chicago Botanic Garden, said the last time the cicadas arrived here in such force was 1990, and he had recently started working at the public botanic gardens in the Chicago suburb of Glencoe, Ill.

"I'd be out in the trees working, and have someone 5 feet from me. We couldn't talk to one another, because you couldn't hear them," Tiddens said. He expects this year's crop to be just as large.

"The wildlife is going crazy. You see squirrels and raccoons and skunks digging in the dirt, feasting on the cicadas that haven't come out yet," he said. "It's like Thanksgiving in May for them."

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I'm from Chicago and I remember them well from 17 years ago. Luckily, the neighborhood I was living in at the time was relatively new, so they weren't around our home. But go elsewhere, and they're a'buzzing so loudly and boy are they ugly. Supposedly they've already hit Chicago but I haven't seen one yet.

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We hit the 17 year mark a few years ago in my state. They are not too pleasant to look at, but for me the worst thing is the smell and the sound....well their mere presence is horrible. Good luck, I stayed indoors a lot.

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