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Cicadas Are Here! Cicadas Are Here!

The sound is unmistakable. I read recently that the buzzing drone noise male cicadas create to attract females can reach 100 decibels, in other words, as loud as a chainsaw. Whoa!! The distinctive noise will only last a few weeks, so I suppose we should just settle in and enjoy it.


If you look closely, cicadas are suddenly EVERYWHERE! On the ground, in the trees, attaching to anything they can find outdoors. Those red, bulging eyes are a dead giveaway that the 13-year cycle has come around once again. Annual cicadas come out every summer, but these periodical cicadas come out every 13 or 17 years, depending on the specific type. I well remember two cycles ago -- summer of 1998 -- because we were busy planning the outdoor wedding reception of our oldest daughter and wondered if we'd be able to hear the music over the din of cicadas buzzing. (P.S. We could, and everything was perfect). Now, here they are again, right on time, according to nature's timetable.


Considering their astounding numbers, it is fortunate that cicadas aren't harmful to humans or pets nor will they damage newly-planted gardens. Birds, bats, wasps, and spiders, however, are enjoying a veritable feast. Cicadas aerate our lawns and add "free fertilizer" to the soil when they decompose. Win-win-win.



The life cycle of a cicada is fascinating. While these millions of cicadas are above ground, they are mating, and the females are laying eggs -- between 200 and 400 -- in tiny holes they make in trees or shrubs. After about 6-10 weeks, the eggs hatch as nymphs and immediately fall to the ground, burrow underneath, and attach themselves to tree roots. They stay there sucking up tree sap for the next 2-17 YEARS, then make their way back above ground at sunset, and shed their skin. They are now adults. Once they are above ground as adults, they only live about five weeks before they die. Think about that. They spend up to 17 years EATING. Then in a five-week span they are a robin's lunch, or they find a mate and then "die of natural causes." My goodness!



All of these cicada facts bring other stories to my mind.


Think about those swarms of locusts during the time of Moses. They were the 8th plague out of 10 that God sent to try to persuade Pharoah to let His people go. There were so many locusts that the ground was black. Unlike cicadas, locusts were terribly destructive, eating any crops that had survived the previous hailstorm and all the fruit remaining on the trees. What if we had to FEAR these cicadas?


The sound outside right now with its crescendo and decrescendo reminds me of the time Steve and I were in a church in South Korea when it came time in the service for the congregation to pray. The pastor rang a bell, then everyone started praying aloud at once. It began softly. Several hundred people calling out to God. Then the pitch grew higher and louder and stayed that way for several minutes. Without a perceptible signal from anyone in the room, the sound slowly began to subside and get softer again. The pastor rang the bell a second time, and the praying stopped. I remember being reminded that God was capable of hearing every person's prayers at the same time and in their own language.


The underground activity of the cicadas reminds me of the stories I've heard of what happened when Chinese Christians were forbidden from holding public worship services in church buildings. They began to meet in their homes in small groups -- "underground," so to speak. Years later, it was discovered that while these house churches were meeting, Christianity had grown tremendously. The Communist leaders were unsuccessful in their attempts to stop the spread of the Gospel.


Most of all, though, I think the predictable cycle of the cicadas reminds me of the orderly ways of God in creation. He put everything in place just at the time that was perfect for that particular object or being. The light . . . then the sky . . . then the earth, seas, and vegetation . . . then the sun and moon . . . then the animals in the air and ocean . . . then land animals and humans. Hmmmm. Does that mean cicadas and humans were created on the same day? Maybe so.


Anyway, enjoy these few weeks with the cicadas. I'd love to know what thoughts they bring to your mind.


And, by all means, enjoy a wonderful Mother's Day weekend. If you still have your mother, celebrate her and tell her how much you love her. If you are a mother, thank God for that incredible privilege. If you know someone who desperately wants to be a mother but has been physically unable, be sensitive and kind.


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