Suzi Cicada: Chapter 11

“Ummm. Good to meet you,” replied Suzi. “I am Suzi. You have quite a fancy name. I like your plan of hiding for a while. Those crows are even bigger than the blue jay that tried to eat me.”

“I have never met another cicada. My name was given to me recently by this grumpy, old, yellow-spotted salamander. He said that all the cicadas coming up on top now were Magicicadas of Brood X, but that we were all headstrong and he was tired of answering questions. I only asked him which way was up!”

Suzi smiled. ”I think you met my friend, Sam. He comes across as difficult, but he is very kind. So, I must be Magicicada, too!  Sam said that our best chance is to get lost in the crowd. I think we should wait until it is dark to move again.”

The two chatted softly until night fell. They watched many cicadas fly past, and several were eaten by squirrels and a fox. Suzi and Magicicada came close to being caught themselves. A two-footed, large animal was walking a dog on a leash. The brute sniffed towards their hiding spot in the bush. The big two-footed critter, whom they heard other creatures refer to as “humans,” pulled on the leash just in time, yelling, “Jojo! Leave those nasty things alone! They make you throw up!”  The dog’s cold, wet nose brushed against Suzi’s body as it turned away. What a dangerous world!

In the warmth of the next afternoon, Suzi and Magic crawled out and flew to a nearby tree. They watched while cicadas paired up to mate. That evening, they saw waddling racoons stuff one cicada after another into their mouths with grubby little paws. Suzi and Magic crawled to the back of the tree to avoid getting caught. A few hours later, a flutter of wings surprised them as a barred owl swooped in and pulled another cicada off a nearby tree.

Suzi and Magic scooted under some leaves and waited for the larger animals to pass. Day followed night, and more cicadas joined them on the trees. The whirring got louder. Even though it was shocking to see so many cicadas get munched, there were happy moments. Flying was glorious!  Suzi adored zooming high, and Magic learned how to tilt in time to avoid slamming into trees. They snickered to see humans swatting at air as cicadas flew close, or worse, land on them. The humans’ shrieks were louder than the whirring cicadas.

Suzi watched something new with special interest. Some cicadas poked their abdomen into thin branches on the ends of trees. She thought that they were sipping plant fluids, but they were using the wrong end. The cicada would move to another twig and repeat. Upon closer inspection, Suzi saw that the cicada had cut a slit into the wood and laid eggs. Eventually, she summoned up the nerve to question one of these cicadas. Was Suzi surprised by the answer!

Read Chapter 12 of Suzi Cicada.

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

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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 https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news2/social-hub/ for Fairfax County Government's Comment Policy.

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