Monday, June 16, 2008

Bug Ugly with a 17 year Itch

Imagine living underground for 17 years just to emerge for 4 – 6 weeks during which you have little time to eat just time for sex. Does that sounds like any red-blooded 17 year old male teenager’s dream? I don’t know, but it is the life cycle of the periodical Magicicada insect, which is currently a pest in my garden.

About two weeks ago these long living insects emerged from their long underground life in huge numbers in about 15 Eastern US states. Some places report up to 1.5 million insects per acre. At times their mating “song” is deafening and trying to have a telephone conversion on the back porch is nearly impossible. Although they look frightening with their big red eyes and orange wings they are harmless and don’t attack humans. But they do sometimes fly into us as we walk about the garden. Except for placing nets around small trees and shrubs, there is no real protection for the plants. Pesticides have no effect. In my garden they are mainly in the maple and pear trees, far too big to protect. I can just hope they don’t cause too much damage as the female cut into twigs to lay their eggs.

Although we see them as a “pest”, the Chinese consider them good luck because they signify long life and immortality. Artists have used them as inspiration for jewelry (right.)

Lastly, adventurous eaters make a meal out of them. Reportedly they have a nutty flavor and can be dipped in batter and fried, used in an Asian-style meal with garlic, onion, zucchini and peppers and some use them as meat on a kebab…cicada-babs. Translated to Afrikaans: Gogga-sosaties. Bon appitit!
Heading photo courtesy Photo: by Ruth Jarret

Dinner for two with cicada-babs.
(Photo courtesy of

Students at Ohio University experimented with cicadas as a food supplement. Fried in batter (above) and in an Asian inspired gourmet sauce for rice. (below)

(Photo courtesy

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