Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Cicadas Have Arrived


On Friday evening while mowing the lawn I saw a bunch of small holes in the backyard. 

They looked vaguely like the holes that an aerator makes, but I was confused. 

Large worms?  Small gophers?  I felt environmentally-challenged (those would have to be some seriously small gophers, but I didn't have a whole lot of other theories!).

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Then, while walking with Tucker yesterday, he showed us a cicada sitting just off the edge of the sidewalk, and I had a major "A-HA" moment.  I have been reading articles about the impending return of Brood II, but I hadn't made the connection the prior evening, when I saw the holes in our yard. 

Brood II cicadas emerge every 17 years, and here's a short description from Wikipedia: "The 4-centimeter long black insects do not sting or bite. Once they emerge, they spend their short two-week lives climbing trees, shedding their crunchy skins and reproducing. They can number up to a million per hectare (2.5 acres)."

Wow - we could have a large number of cicadas in the backyard for the next couple of weeks!  I don't think I have heard them yet, but I'm going to be on the lookout (and on-the-listen).

NPR has a great "Cicada Tracker" site (here), and sure enough the first sightings from Charlottesville are from the past couple of days.


This is a Brood II cicada.  It's kind of a beautiful, elegant creature. The wings remind me of stained-glass.

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Newswise, the Benghazi attack re-emerged this past week.  Christopher Stevens's second-in-command, Gregory Hicks, alleged during a Congressional hearing that a special operations team was ordered to stand-down and not attempt to rescue Stevens and the others who were under siege. 

It's difficult to follow this story -- in particular to parse-out the political versus national security motives of continuing to investigate the details. One new piece of information that I learned from this week's hearings was that the Benghazi office was not yet a full-fledged embassy.  The official description was "diplomatic post".

My biggest takeaway is that I continue to admire Stevens and other individuals who put themselves in harm's way for the sake of diplomacy and better understanding between people/cultures/nations.

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