Buggin out

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As a kid, I detested bugs. Really. They freaked me out. Any crawly, multiple-legged critter, one with wings that send it flying into my face: They all led to me shrieking like some banshee as I ran out the room or, if I was outside, running into the house to get away. But my most despised: the cricket. I loved the chirrup it made. But when I walked near one, it would always jump at me instead of away. It scared the hell out of me.

Then something happened. When I was almost 17, a brood of 17-year cicadas came to visit. I lived in Maryland and, over the course of three weeks, millions upon millions of them dug themselves out of the ground, crawled up trees, poles, legs — anything — and issued a piercing, ear-splitting call that drowned out any other sound around. Honestly. You couldn’t even hear planes fly overhead.

M. septendecim calling by Joe Green from Cicada Mania on Vimeo.

The cicadas (called magicicada septendecim) live a 17-year lifecycle. Once they mate, the females lay eggs in little slits they make in tree limbs with an ovipositor. The adults die away. The eggs, shortly after, hatch and the grubs fall to the ground. They burrow in the earth where they molt for 17 years, crawling back out of the ground to start the process anew.

These days, I’ve become a bug lover. Show me an insect — wolf spider, unicorn beetle, honeybee — and I’m likely to stop and talk to it. I find insects incredibly beautiful. Like these insects. Photographed with their bodies covered in dew, they’re a sight to behold. Enough so, it can turn “Ewww” into “Wow.”