[Originally published in April, 2021 as Cicada Choir]
Sometime in May, West Virginia’s eastern panhandle will be blessed by bugs. Actually, they are insects called periodical cicadas. In 2016, the northern panhandle and central part of the state, down as far as northern Kanawha and Fayette Counties, were blessed. The blessing will not return for 17 years.
Every year, what are commonly called “Dog-day Cicadas” appear during the hot days of summer. Their shapes are similar, but their coloration is different from periodical cicadas. Also, dog-day cicadas are much less numerous. Periodical cicadas appear by the billions!
The humongous horde of insects is often incorrectly called “locusts.”
For the past seventeen years, their nymphs have been buried in the soil, sucking juices from roots. Miraculously, they come out of the ground, shed their skins, show off a beautiful set of wings, and then the males start calling for mates. Male periodical cicadas “sing” with specially designed organs called tymbals.
The females will lay their eggs in twigs. Baby cicadas hatch and fall to the ground, where they stay for seventeen years. Then the process begins again.
Except for young trees, cicadas do no damage and they do not bite or sting. Cicadas prune weak tree branches, aerate and fertilize the soil, provide lots of bulk in the food chain, and they are edible by humans.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem a few days before he was crucified, the Pharisees told him to stop the people from praising Him. Jesus “answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” Luke 19:40
Jesus, the Creator of all things (John 1:3 and Revelation 4:11), is worthy of praise. If humans do not praise Him, His creation will. Read Psalms 148:1-14.
Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl:
Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory [is] above the earth and heaven. Psalm 148:10,13
A great example of that is the sounds sung by cicadas.
The world would be in sad shape without insects. Most insects live their lives unnoticed. The tiniest insect has tremendous technology, and periodical cicadas cry out, “There is a Creator.”
Cicadas are complicated beyond comprehension. Different species of cicadas have different life spans. Lots of scientific and mathematical facts about cicadas can be found in my article “Do Cicadas Count?”
Cicadas truly display the ingenuity and artistry of the Creator.
In their own way, periodical cicadas sing prodigious praise to God. I hope you will enjoy the cicada choir.