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Night of the Living Cicadas

I like to think of myself as an outdoorsy person. I’m not one of those survivalists who can be dropped in the middle of nowhere via celebrity helicopter and survive off the land with one match and a canteen. I am, however, someone who will willingly backpack in the woods and portage with a canoe and be away from the amenities of home and enjoy it as well as survive.

My husband does not understand my affinity for camping and finds my love for the great outdoors ironic as he has borne witness to the countless moments where I have encountered my sworn enemy – the insect. He has seen me do the ‘shake it off’ jitter where I maniacally toss my head and arms around hoping to dislodge any intruding critter that could have attached to my clothing; and let’s not forget the ‘squeal, run and shudder’ when large beetles have decided to hitch a ride on my shoulder.

Yes, the truth is that I hate insects. I understand their importance in the ecosystems of our forests but part of the reason I don’t like them is that they don’t seem to like me, or rather, they don’t seem to be willing to leave me alone. Case in point, let me tell you about a frightening and grotesque evening I had to endure which I like to call ‘Night of the Living Cicadas.’

There we were, enjoying a lovely campfire in the woods of Haliburton. My kids were tucked snug in their beds in the trailer. As the adults played Gordon Lightfoot songs on guitars, I could hear the assembly of cicadas begin. Their buzzing got closer and then there was sudden silence. I told the men to stop playing their guitars. I could sense that something was afoot…I knew there was impending doom.

And then, it started. A thud in the back of my head and the buzz of insect wings. Of course, I immediately swatted at the uninvited creature.  A second later, another direct hit to the back of my skull. You know that feeling you get when you know that someone is watching you from a distance but you aren’t quite sure where they are watching from? Well, the panic set in, I threw my lumberjack blanket around my head, and I knew that I was surrounded; the assault of hard crunchy cicada thoraxes continued as they hurled themselves at me repeatedly. In the darkness, my family members could not see what was actually happening. They could not see the emotional anguish I was going through as I wrapped my blanket a little tighter and tried to remain calm despite knowing that cicadas are ‘just bugs that won’t hurt you’ (Words I have said to my own kids when they see creepy crawlers as I try to dissuade them from having insect phobias). Unfortunately, logic gets tossed out the window after fifty insects catapult themselves into you. As you can probably conclude, the enemy won that day. They won the battle and hummed their high-pitched victory buzz as I ran to the trailer and left everyone else to fend for themselves. I’d like to point out that not one other adult came in conflict with a cicada that evening. I was the only victim in this attack. 

I question why. Why me? Was it the buffalo check blanket? Was it the guitar playing that wooed them into some sort of frenzy? I don’t know, but what I do know is that when I hear those buzzes, there will be no more Gordon Lightfoot strumming and I will be comfortably waving at the campfire from the trailer window. 

By Danielle McNelly, 

Nortech Windows, Doors & Sunrooms