Suzi Cicada: Chapter 6

As light faded along the log’s rim, Suzi patiently waited for Sam. She was astonished by all she had learned from Benjamin and his family. Not yet two years old, Ben and his two brothers and fourteen sisters lived with their parents, Chris and Lauren. Ben had proudly announced that his elytra had recently turned from a reddish brown to black. Elytra is the hard outer shell that protects the delicate flight wings of all beetles. Suzi was impressed with her growing vocabulary.

Ben looked like his parents and ate rotten wood just like a grownup bess beetle. Benjamin bragged that they grew their own healthy food…sort of.

Confused, Suzi asked, “What did you eat as a baby beetle?” Suzi had only eaten sap for years.

“My parents made all our meals for us when us kids were young. For about a year, we looked different. In our baby pictures, we looked like short, fat, cream-colored worms with tan heads. Our parents are great chefs. They chewed up wood and mixed it with their frass so that we could grow up big and strong!”

“Excuse me? What is frass? You can’t imagine what I thought when you said that,” chuckled Suzi.

Benjamin’s dad turned and said, “Let me take it from here, son. Frass is the fancy name for insect poop.”

“WHAT! Then what I was thinking was right. That sounds just awful,” barked Suzi, forgetting her manners.

Chris continued, “Actually a lot of creatures reuse their poop with great success. I will let you in on a little secret. Everyone in our log neighborhood believes that all we eat is wood. We are considered nature’s recycler. For the last three years, we have received the Woodland #1 Decomposer Award. But we do not get our energy from eating wood like termites do. We munch the rotting wood and then poop. A lot. A fungus grows on our poop, and that is what we use for nutrition. We have lots of uses for our frass. We wrap our precious babies in a nest of crumbled wood and poop. So warm and cozy!”

Suzi was flabbergasted. Her mouth at the end of her proboscis hung open. These perfectly nice beetles now seemed to be crazy. Fortunately, the bess beetle family thought Suzi was in awe of their cleverness. They took no offense. 

After a few moments, Suzi rallied by responding, “I am just speechless. I would never have guessed. You are quite…..resourceful.”

Benjamin puffed out his thorax, since insects do not have a chest, and boasted, “When my little brothers and sisters are ready to meta-mor-phose into an adult, I am going to help pack frass around each one for their cocoon!”

Suzi waited until the bess beetles’ cheering had quieted before she said, “I am sure that will be a memorable day for all.” Suzi was more anxious than ever to leave. Fortunately, right then Sam strolled up to the happy group. True to form, Sam took a few minutes to settle before he presented his warning.

Read Chapter 7 of Suzi Cicada.

Author Suzanne Holland is the Visitor Center Manager of Hidden Oaks Nature Center, which is home to lots and lots of cicadas!

This entry was posted in Uncategorized on by .

About Fairfax County Park Authority

About Fairfax County Park Authority HISTORY: On December 6, 1950, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors created the Fairfax County Park Authority. The Park Authority was authorized to make decisions concerning land acquisition, park development and operations in Fairfax County, Virginia. To date, 13 park bond referenda have been approved between 1959 and 2016. Today, the Park Authority has 427 parks on more than 23,000 acres of land. We offer 325 miles of trails, our most popular amenity. FACILITIES: The Park system is the primary public mechanism in Fairfax County for the preservation of environmentally sensitive land and resources, areas of historic significance and the provision of recreational facilities and services including: • Nine indoor RECenters with swimming pools, fitness rooms, gyms and class spaces. Cub Run features an indoor water park and on-site naturalist • Eight golf courses from par-3 to championship level, four driving ranges including the new state-of-the-art heated, covered range at Burke Lake Golf Center • Five nature and visitor centers. Also nine Off-Leash Dog Activity areas • Three lakefront parks including Lake Fairfax, Lake Accotink and Burke Lake, with campgrounds at Burke Lake and Lake Fairfax. The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole at Lake Fairfax, Our Special Harbor Sprayground at Lee as well as an indoor water park at Cub Run RECenter • Clemyjontri Park, a fully accessible playground in Great Falls featuring two acres of family friendly fun and a carousel, as well as Chessie’s Big Backyard and a carousel at the Family Recreation Area at Lee District Park • An ice skating rink at Mount Vernon RECenter and the Skate Park in Wakefield Park adjacent to Audrey Moore RECenter • Kidwell Farm, a working farm of the 1930s-era at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon, now with historic carousel • Eight distinctive historic properties available for rent • A working grist mill at Colvin Run in Great Falls and a restored 18th century home at Sully Historic Site in Chantilly • A horticulture center at Green Spring Gardens in Annandale • Natural and cultural resources protected by the Natural Resource Management Plan and Cultural Resource Plans, plus an Invasive Management Area program that targets alien plants and utilizes volunteers in restoring native vegetation throughout our community • Picnic shelters, tennis courts, miniature golf courses, disc golf courses, off-leash dog parks, amphitheaters, a marina, kayaking/canoeing center • Provides 263 athletic fields, including 39 synthetic turf fields, and manages athletic field maintenance services at 417 school athletic fields. PARK AUTHORITY BOARD: A 12-member citizen board, appointed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, sets policies and priorities for the Fairfax County Park Authority. Visit for Fairfax County Government's Comment Policy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s