Monday, May 2, 2011

The thirteen-year symphony

Three days ago I awoke to a sound I have, for as long as I can remember, associated with the sound of Star Trek phasers and other "laser" weapons. I joked with Kevin that the Romulans were drilling in the woods behind our house. The noise, a continuous vibration in C#, lasts from sunup to sundown. The ones closer by sound like bugs; you can hear the individual voices. However, the millions of them singing from the tops of the trees for miles around blend together into a single eerie voice emanating from all corners of the earth. It is a beautiful and alien sound made even more precious by the rarity of its occurrance.

Though we have many cicada species living in our midst, Brood XIX, only emerge every thirteen years. They will spend a few weeks singing from the tops of the hardwood trees, mate and die. Their offspring will spend the next thirteen years underground, feeding on sap from tree roots before they make their journey to the surface to molt, climb skyward and sing.

Or, rather, most of them will.

Some will spend their final days amusing our resident entemologist.