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