One of the Brood X periodical cicadas, McLean VA

For today’s prompt I immediately think of B-movie monsters. Often based on, or actually, giant bugs or spiders. But of course, to me bugs and spiders (the real thing) aren’t monsters at all. I actually love watching sci-fi shows and films to see how aliens are often depicted with patterns, body parts, coloring, etc. that are reminiscent of actual insects in the real world. Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and various movies have all done that. I think somebody could write a really interesting study on that, or maybe someone in the special effects or costuming industry could write a sort of resource book for their colleagues and/or authors and scriptwriters. For that matter, it would be a lot of fun to have a bunch of entomologists & naturalists (amateurs & pros alike) get together to watch sci fi and then pick apart the visual effects we recognized!

As for “monsters” in the news recently, you probably heard about the Brood X (“ten,” as in Roman numerals, not “ecks” as in the alphabet)periodical cicadas that emerged in the Mid-Atlantic area this summer. A lot of the media coverage described them as “invading monsters,” when of course they’d been here all along, just underground. So who’s invading whom?? They were here first. Anyway, I live right in the middle of the Brood X range, so had a blast participating in cicada watches, posting to cicada community science projects like Cicada Safari, etc. I even created a Brood X themed Junior Ranger book for work, although didn’t get it done in time for this year’s emergence. I’ll revise it this winter when things are slower at my park, and get it ready for the next emergence in 2038.

Sure, I guess if you’re not as much into insects as I am, the periodic cicadas could seem monstrous. They do match the qualities of a lot of b-movie monsters– strange looking, bug-eyed, in huge numbers. But I loved them! It was a blast to have every amateur entomologist out in numbers too. Entomologists were highlighted on the news, in social media, anywhere you looked. That was a great part of the emergence, the sense of community I felt. Nearly everyone was interested in the bugs for once, and we certainly were all experiencing the same event at the same time. I met dozens of budding young entomologists at the park, all as gleeful as I was. I even chatted with some of their parents about activities to continue exploring insects after the cicadas were gone. And creating cicada-themed social media posts was so much fun. One of my favorites was a photo shoot I did where I posed a handful of live, very active, cicadas on my flat hat (part of my work uniform) and scrambled to wrangle them, keep them from wandering off while I took photos. I ended up recruiting some volunteer children who were walking by to help me out with that project. We discussed how to hold the cicadas safely and gently, and they were very good at spotting an escaping cicada and preventing that without harming the insects. I think the parents had just as much fun watching our antics. I know it was one of my favorite days at the park ever, so far.

My flat hat, the cicadas, and a few of my volunteer cicada wranglers.

I even read that you can mimic the sound of an acquiescent female cicada by snapping your fingers. I tried it when I saw a male cicada land near me and start calling, and sure enough, it started following my hand around! After a few minutes, though, it flew actually up to my shoulder where it glared at me for a second or two, as if to say, “Stop wasting my time!” Then it flew off. That was very cool to experience.

There’s no way I can fit all my love for periodic cicadas, and especially Brood X, into a single post. Expect to hear about them again, perhaps even during the Blogtober challenge. But for now, feast your eyes on sa few more shots from this year’s emergence.

Such beautiful wings!
I often carried cicadas around to let visitors see them up close! I don’t think they were approved uniform wear, though…

One response to “Monsters?”

  1. James N Bucknam Avatar
    James N Bucknam

    Awesome cicada close-ups!


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