Cicadaphobia

It's not exactly every 17 years!

On Edge

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It’s May 14 and I’m still able to walk from my building to the bus stop (always holding on to my big umbrella) without even seeing holes in the ground. While I’m on the bus, usually occupying a window seat, my eyes can’t stop scanning all the tree trunks, branches, foliage, roots, and even the soil on the way to the metro station in search of signs: Black adults still hardening their wings, ghostly teneral adults just emerged from their shells, shells stuck in the bark, nymphs crawling out of the ground, holes… anything! In the metro train, I worry that those passengers who got on before me in the “contaminated areas” of Northern Virginia may be carrying one (or more), unaware, on their clothes or in their purses. Back above ground in the city, I scan again all trees and bushes on my way to work. So far, everything seems to be clean.

But it’s only 60 degrees outside…

If they don’t emerge in the next few days when the highs are supposed to reach the 80s, then I will have officially escaped the plague! That would be a miracle! But miracles sometimes do happen, don’t they? Please, God, please… I’m really not looking forward to five weeks of imprisonment. If they do come out, though, I’m so not ready to brave entire swarms of them. And the thing with cicadas is that they always come out in swarms…

Knowing that they’re being spotted only a few miles from home is literally keeping my nerves on edge. I know they usually don’t fly long distances, but… What if they hitchhike to my neighborhood? (Hey, they do land on cars, don’t they?) What if they show up here, too, eventually? (I still can’t summon up all my courage to walk into the wooded park across from my building to look at the hole/nymph situation there…). What if they don’t show up here, but they do show up at work? I made arrangements with my office to telecommute in case it gets really bad, but I will be on a reduced schedule, which, for a young designer who’s still paid by the hour, obviously means less money, and, in theory, I can’t afford that. In practice, I’ll have to make it work because, really, I have no choice… I have seen photos on Flickr that someone took this past weekend in Prince William County, and it’s just like 2004 over there. There are clusters of them holding on to blades of grass, twigs, leaves and trunks!

Just looking at how the WNYC Cicada Tracker map has flared up in the Washington, DC metro area, I feel absolutely queasy… And this is just the beginning!

How about you? How are you coping? I’m in touch with some people I’ve met through this website and the Facebook and Twitter associated to it, and I know they’re trying to come up with strategies to at least be able to get to work or school. It’s a hard time for us entomophobes, and not many people understand how terrifying this can be to us. Luckily, it seems that the media is starting to look at the cicada emergence from our perspective, too. I was recently approached by a couple of journalists interested in this site, my story, and the stories of all of you who “like” Cicadaphobia on Facebook or follow it on Twitter. Hopefully something good will come out of this. I know many won’t agree, but I think this “fascinating natural phenomenon” should be controlled, at least in densely populated areas… There are way too many bugs to deal with! Way too many…

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