Brood X Cicadas

Two cicadas on leaves of a shrub

The Brood X cicadas have arrived here in Maryland! I was fascinated by their last topside journey, that they live underground for 17 years before coming up.

Why that many years? I’m not a scientist, and I don’t know. One of nature’s mysteries, maybe. According to Wikipedia, Broods I – XIV are on 17-year cycles, and Broods XIX – XXIII are on 13-year cycles.

Well, it’s Brood X’s time in the sun.

I’ve been looking forward to their return. I feel more prepared this time: knowing what to expect and having a cell phone to take photos and videos. If you’d like to hear the cicadas, there’s a video at the end of this post.

The cicadas are flying about, crawling on sidewalks, hanging on out tree trunks and on leaves of bushes:

Many cicadas on shrub leaves

Also, lots of the exoskeletons are left behind, and these are also on trees and shrubs. To me, there’s something alien-ish in the shedding of the shell and leaving the empty ones around. But then, I enjoy science fiction, so it’s not surprising that my mind went there.

Here are the exoskeletons:

Many cicada exoskeletons on a tree trunk, with one cicada emerging from its exoskeleton

Being a writer, I couldn’t help writing a flash fiction story from the point of view of a cicada:


Helluva Long Time of Waiting to Party
(A message from a Brood X cicada)
by Dave Williams

Hey, didja miss me? Of course you did! Wait. You say you don’t remember me? I was the little nymph who shouted, “What’s up!” as I fell from the maple tree in your yard. I thought you heard me. But maybe that was just your confused face.

Well, for the past 17 years I’ve spent in the dirt, I’ve been wondering what you’ve been up to. I gotta tell ya, it ain’t the best living conditions down there. Tight space, no sunlight, only thing to eat is sap from tree roots. It’s no paradise on Earth, believe me.

We’re talking epic Seasonal Affective Disorder and cabin fever here. Don’t let me hear you whining about being cooped up for a couple days in a snowstorm in some cabin in Colorado. That’s NOTHING compared to what we cicadas go through.

It’s MUCH better up here in the sunshine! Fresh air is so beautiful. And it’s awesome to stretch my wings and flit around. Freedom, baby! I love feeling the wind on my face!

Sure, sure, 17 years is a long stretch in the dark, but we feel lucky for it this time. All of us underground were SO glad we’re not on a 16-year cycle. You’re surprised I know about last year? News of what’s going on topside comes down to us. Slowly, but it gets there.

And last year was CRAZY! You had a pandemic and protests and wildfires and a controversial U.S. presidential election. Controversy’s everywhere! And, oh yeah, the murder hornets! Those buggers alone would’ve shaken my knees.

Speaking of shaking knees, your toilet-paper shortage last year had us laughing. What apocalyptic movie predicted that???? None of ‘em! Y’all are so entertained by Mad Max-style shooting that nobody thought to include the real fear of opening the bathroom door and seeing an empty toilet-paper roll. Haha!

Okie-dokie, I gotta get going. I’m only gonna live a handful of weeks, so I gotta make sure I get to the important stuff, if you know what I mean. Wink, wink. I’ll play a groove on my tymbals, and the ladies will come running.

You can get stressed out about vaccine shots and cholesterol and climate change and your retirement account. I could care not less! Time for me to live it up! Party like there’s no tomorrow!

Yeah, our partying is loud. What, you gonna call the cops and complain? They can’t do anything to stop us! Haha!

Sorry, not sorry!


And now for the video/audio experience…

I took this video in my neighborhood. If you’d rather view it on Youtube, it’s available here. A bird zooms by at the 2:43 mark.


story, photos, and video copyright © 2021 Dave Williams