The Privileged Life: Invasion of the “Bug-Body Snatchers”—Magicicadas Emerge!

“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you.” Joel 2:25

They’re ba-a-a-ack! The alien invasion has begun!

Brood X of the periodical cicada (Magicicada genus) is here, rising from a 17-year nymph-life underground. And they’re not quiet about it…this is a showstopper debut performance with millions of singers.

Unlike the raspy, waxing/waning chant of the annual cicada, these guys launch into an ear-piercing whirr to attract mates. If Hollywood needs sound effects of a UFO landing, they only need to visit our neck of the woods.

The Magicicadas’ eerie sound, which can reach 100 decibels, is created as each insect buckles and unbuckles hard plates along its abdomen in rapid fire. Here’s a sample, not quite as loud as they will eventually become: 

You’ll hear them, even with the windows rolled up in your car, in our Appalachian region of Tennessee as well as parts of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, and Indiana this year. Other broods, identified by Roman numerals, emerge in different years in other regions. 

Some people mistakenly call them “locusts,” but locusts are actually those giant grasshopper-like insects that arrive in droves to wipe out entire crops. Conversely, Magicicadas are the “eaten”—crispy snacks for wild turkeys, squirrels, snakes, and even bears. 

In my opinion, Magicicadas are the supermodels of the bug world, strikingly beautiful with dark green bodies and glowing red eyes. Okay, so they do look a bit sci-fi, especially if you look at the creepy brown shells they’ve left behind. But they’re harmless. Their new costume has glittering, golden-webbed wings that elevate them to Marvel superhero status…or perhaps more appropriately, one of the Transformers.

Like butterflies and swans, Magicicadas undergo a “makeover” to become an adult, trading an ugly, earthbound existence for flight. No longer tethered by gravity, they soar and flit among trees and through fields with the summer sun glistening on their diaphanous wings.

What a transformation! 

It’s at times like this when I wish I had become an entomologist (an insect scientist) instead of an etymologist (someone who likes words). But I do keep an empty cicada shell on my dresser all year long. Even though it’s not from a true locust, it reminds me of God’s faithfulness.

One of God’s very best promises is found in the prophecy of Joel—that He “will restore the years that the locusts have eaten.” I have seen Him fulfill this legacy over and over in the past, and this little bug shell makes me smile, content to trust in His sovereign control over the future. Our Lord does what He says He will do. 

If you’re out walking and are privileged to find a discarded vestment from a cicada, take it home in your pocket and set it out as a reminder that God isn’t finished with you yet. He will take the worn-out garments of your body and cover you with His robe of righteousness…He will restore the years the locusts have taken away from you. He will transform you into His child as you were meant to be, beautiful and whole, flying into His arms. 

Faithful God, may You grant us a glimpse today of Your glory in the world around us. Even as we yearn for release from the trappings of this world, we know You are preparing us for an eternal future with You in heaven. Thank You for daily reminders of your constant faithfulness to us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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© Copyright 2021 Nancy C. Williams, Lightbourne Creative (text and photography)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For my previous blog on annual cicadas, go to https://lightbournecreative.com/2020/09/14/the-privileged-life-cicadas-and-coronavirus/

A special thanks to my nearby neighbors Beth B and Laurie S for letting me tramp among their trees to capture the Magicicada song and images!

This newly emerged Magicicada is content to rest on my hand, unafraid…they’re really quite harmless
Leftovers from a “hatching,” so to speak, of Magicicada nymphs near a cedar tree
The discarded shell from a Magicicada nymph
A Magicicada from 17 years ago when my daughter, Elizabeth, was in grade school…

4 thoughts on “The Privileged Life: Invasion of the “Bug-Body Snatchers”—Magicicadas Emerge!

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    1. Hi Mamalava! If you live in the eastern half of the U.S., I imagine that you’ll have an emergence of Magicicadas at some point, maybe in a year or two. Here’s a website with a brood map that shows general vicinities of their arrival this year and future brood groups (courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service)–https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/22362042/cicada-brood-x-map-2021 Maybe you’ll hear/see these amazing critters if you’re traveling in these areas. Hope you have a blessed week!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I don’t live there, but I would love to visit and hear the Magicadas’ song. I have had a bit of wanderlust lately and may just find myself in the right spot on the map in the coming years! Blessings to you, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

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