Cicada Central

I have to admit something…I hate bugs…not all of them, but there are some that really get under my skin. The first being roaches. If I ever find one, I am able to (unwillingly) dispose of it. But there’s something about how they always look just a little shiny, slimy, and wet that bothers me. It’s how some of them move so quickly, and back home how some of them fly. I try to manage my manage my dislike as best I can, but sometimes I really can’t help it. I remember when I was younger, I encountered some weird looking bug, that I had never seen before.

When I was about 13, my cousins came for visit. It was the customary good time: we were outside playing, racing each other, laughing it up in the front yard under the warm Georgia sun. While we were talking, we suddenly heard this super loud noise that sounded almost like firecrackers. We were all pretty startled because none of us had any firecrackers (not yet anyway). The sound was close, but we couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was. Quizzically, we looked at each other trying to find out what heck this sporadic pulsing noise was, “tat, tat, tat!” “tat, tat, tat!” I think my brother was the first to spot it. He pointed at the concrete driveway. Lo and behold, there was this strange-looking bug, a big one, laying on it’s back…it’s white underbelly facing the sky. This loud noise was actually the sound of this bug striking it’s wings against the concrete in an attempt to either fly or survive. None of us had ever seen this type of insect before and did what any sane children would do…we ran (at least I did, anyway). I think one my cousins hit the bug with a shovel from our garage (yikes!). I never forgot that mysterious bug with the white stomach.

Fast forward about 15 years (CRAP!! That was eighteen years ago?!? Time…d*mn you!!). I remember riding my bike here in Japan during my first summer, coming across a bug that looked quite similar to the one I had seen. I came across one that I thought was dead, and took a closer look. Again, those powerful wings beat the ground beneath it, making a loud popping noise. I was startled again, but not nearly as much.

I later found out that these bugs were completely harmless cicadas (semi in Japanese, せみ or 蝉)…noisy, but harmless. Knowing that a bug is harmless though, doesn’t always change how I feel about them. Roaches are pretty harmless, too, but that doesn’t make me fond of them.

Here in Japan, during the summer, you’ll see and hear these things all the time, especially if you live in the countryside. They don’t sound so pleasant, and up close they don’t look so cute either, but I think I’ve gotten used to them. There was one on my balcony yesterday, and because it was no longer alive, I actually fought my impulses, picked it up and examined it more closely. Thinking that this would help me face my bug fear, I looked as closely as I could. There was no way for me to slice it, that cicada was still repulsive to me, but the more I see them, the less problematic they become. Cicadas are so common here, that hearing them is no longer a surprise. In the bible, weren’t cicadas like the the Armageddon bugs? I guess cicada is a much better name. If someone said “Hey Donald, look! Armageddon Bugs!” They would look to their left to find that I had been replaced by a puff of cartoon smoke (you know the kind when cartoon characters run?).

If the Apocalypse actually happened we might be in trouble here in Tsukuba because the whole cicada warning sign might just go unnoticed.

Buggin’ out,

Donald Ash

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  • Kayla

    Haha, Donald you’re thinking of Locusts in the bible.

    Yeah, the cicadas here are going nuts with their buzzing mating calls too. It’s that time of year I suppose.

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