Tuesday, January 1, 2008

4-year locusts

Cicada My brother Jim, who lives in central Iowa, has told me about the cicadas that appear there like clockwork every 17 years. I guess it's quite a spectacle when the cicadas come. People make an effort to go out to where they congregate, bringing their children, grandchildren, and cameras. Maybe they bring tape recorders, too, because the most notable feature of a cicada is its noise. If you've ever heard a lone cicada whirring loudly up in a tree, you might imagine the din that must emanate from thousands (millions?) of them all at one time. I suppose, then, it's sort of a relief when the cicadas disperse, and there is relative peace again for another 17 years.

Likewise, Iowans may soon breathe a sigh of relief when their caucuses are finally over, and those other cyclical noisemakers go away. Once again, Iowa will become a relatively quiet flyover state, a place to be ignored for the next 4 years.

Although popularly called locusts, cicadas belong to the order Hemiptera, which also includes aphids, bedbugs, and lice.

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