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Consider this quote from Abe Lincoln

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."



Of all of the horrible things that could happen to human beings according to the Bible is a plague of locusts that descend upon the land, turning the day into night and stripping the earth of all vegetation. If that wasn’t enough, there are numerous newspaper accounts from the early years of settling in Iowa, where huge clouds of grasshoppers would descend upon the land and eat everything in sight while struggling pioneers even took to burning entire wheat crops to stop the migration of those horrible insects.

While we may not have to put the seventeen-year cicada into the same category of the plague of locusts or even those old newspaper stories of the grasshopper invasion, their noise this past week has been enough to chase me indoors and cause me to stop the car more than once because I was sure it was making a strange noise. Oh sure, we Iowans understand the cicada, as every year a few of them crawl their weird bodies up the sides of trees, where like a tiny winged snake they shed their skin and fly through the air to scare the daylights out of you when you aren’t suspecting. But those regular cicadas are big enough to see and really try to keep to themselves, while this seventeen-year group seems to be a creepy red-eyed group of overachievers.

They are everywhere this year. One can barely step foot out of doors without them zipping into you or crunching under foot. Their obnoxious and headache forming mating call is enough to make you wonder if they weren’t actually some sort of government plant just to make all the people who aren’t one hundred percent sane go crazy at the same time. It isn’t even as though they really are put here to bother us. Oh sure they spend years in the ground subsiding on tree sap and then hatch to come out and live a few days and lay eggs and die, and in the process do not really harm any plants although they do tend to enjoy the tomato plants a bit for some strange reason. But come on, couldn’t we cross breed them so the least they could do is to attack the heck out of the mosquito population or something like that while they are here? I’d even be alright with the DNR doing that and then telling us that mosquito eating cicadas don’t exist in Iowa, or they migrated here from other states. At least that would make them somewhat beneficial to the rest of us.

Before you cancel your summer plans and decide to take an axe and chop down every tree in your yard, take comfort in the fact that they won’t be around long and by the end of the summer the plague of cicadas will be only a memory until their next hatch in 2031. And in my own case I have found one good thing about the cicada hatch, and that is I’ve sure cut down on chicken feed this past week. Max’s four chickens who had spent the spring in my kitchen and had moved out for five weeks in the chicken coup are now getting turned out from time to time during daylight hours. At first when I opened the coup door I wondered if maybe they were mad at me for some transgression that I committed against the chicken world, but as soon as they made a beeline for any movement in the grass and started to peck and devour cicadas by the beakfulls I decided this seemed like a pretty sweet payback for not being able to sleep with the windows open at night. So if they are starting to drive you crazy, reach out to a rural friend and borrow a chicken or two, and in a few hours they should have the yard picked clean, and to me, that’s what the circle of life is really all about.

See you next week. Remember, we’re all in this together.