Cicadas are gross, not 'fascinating'

The cicadapocolypse is in full flight. I had hoped that, by some strange fluke of nature, our town would be spared the entomological onslaught. Sadly, I was wrong. All around us now are hundreds of thousands of these bugs.

I have heard and read many people describe this event as “wondrous,” or “fascinating” or even “magical.” Of all the words of which I could think, these three are among the very last. Quite simply, they are revoltingly disgusting.

They are big. They have frighteningly big red eyes. And they fly. In fact, the other day, one flew straight into my face, and a neighbor actually stopped to make sure I was alright after witnessing my total freak out. On top of all this, they make this indescribable sound, the loudest cacophony I have ever heard.

And their timing is so inopportune. The weather is finally warm. Swimming pools have opened. Graduation and other summer parties abound. And these bugs are everywhere, ruining the mood and putting a kibosh on the fun.

This year is unique in that there are two broods that have come out at the same time, which has not happened since 1803 (before Hinsdale was even founded). Thankfully, the overlap of those two broods is not here, but in central Illinois.

Now, to be fair, it is true that cicadas are totally harmless. They do not bite or sting. In fact, they are among the wimpiest bugs I have ever seen. Most of the time, they just sit and do nothing.

All of this notwithstanding, I still cannot help but be completely revulsed by them. And I do have to admit I am the one who is allowing them to ruin my day.

And that makes me reflect: these insects and their 13- to 17-year lifecycle have been coming and going for millennia, with little regard to human civilization. It is we humans who have invaded their space, not the other way around.

Though we tend to think otherwise, we are a very small part of the universe, and the universe continues to proceed without any regard to how we feel about it. That should teach us some humility.

I am told that the numbers of cicadas should have peaked, and they are starting to trail off right about now. Hopefully, by the time of the Fourth of July parade, most of the cicadas will be gone. That brings me no small amount of relief.

At the same time, Cicadapocolypse 2024 reminds me just how small we humans are in the big scheme of things, and perhaps, just perhaps, I should learn to enjoy the vicissitudes and wonders of the natural world around me.

But maybe not with these cicadas. They are just so gross.

— Guest columnist Hesham Hassaballa of Hinsdale is a former contributing columnist. Readers can email him at [email protected].