I have a little neighborly advice for the Cicadas who have recently moved into my neighborhood. I know that some people are really upset with the little guys, so I thought I might be of some assistance in helping them to acclimate to the world that has changed since their last visit 13 years ago. With a little effort, I think we can all get along here.
One of the key issues stems from a lack of understanding concerning politeness. Behaviors that are perfectly acceptable in entomological society may not be appropriate around humans and vice versa. So when you weigh the appropriateness of my advice, please remember that we are in the South and that manners matter here. It can make a huge impact on how well you’re accepted. Bear this in mind as you read on.
First of all, swarming is not considered attractive in polite society. It shows a complete disregard for personal space. Unless you’re a hot looking groupie (subjective, I know) falling all over a rock star, swarming is generally not a desirable trait. Keep a little space and try to avoid accidentally flying into the orifices of strangers (unless the stranger is a rock star who likes that sort of thing).
Next, try to keep the noise down. I don’t speak your language or know what you’re saying, but everyone clicking at once creates more tension and confusion. So try not to talk all at once because you sound like a giant, drunk rattlesnake when you do this. In fact, your conversations often sound like a frat party with maracas.
Eating decorative plants, dropping your larvae in public places, molting where people may be eating, and dying en masse on someone’s front porch are all behaviors which are generally frowned upon. In addition, simply showing up every thirteen years is not the same as calling ahead for a reservation.
I know that this can be overwhelming all at once, so to help you keep track of appropriate and inappropriate behavior I have constructed a simple list below:
Dive bombing cars by hurling yourself at them on the interstate: Not polite.
Eating decorative wreaths: Not polite
Flying down a shirt without an invitation: Not polite.
Dying in large groups on your neighbors porch: Not polite.
Calling ahead for a reservation to swarm trees: Polite.
Dressing up for dinner: Polite
Playing “Quiet Mouse” for your entire six week visit: Polite
Wearing mascara to tone down your ghoulishly orange eyeballs: Polite
Keeping your pincers to yourself at all times: Polite
In summary, Cicadas, if you want to be welcomed on your next visit, try some traditional courtesy. The results can be lifechanging. For example, instead of thinking of you as a nuisance, some people might even think you were cool.