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Columnist, Sheila Moss, is humor writer from  Tennessee. She writes  a weekly human interest column about daily life and the funny things that happen to everyone.

   She has written for  the Daily News of Kingsport,   Griffin Journal, Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton Advocate,  and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. She has been published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks at Guidepost Books.  Her articles have appeared in numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.

    She is a former board member and past  Editor of  the, website of  the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the oldest and largest professional organization for columnists. She is the Web Editor of Southern  and  a founder of the Southern Humorists writers' organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of

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Year of the Locust...


The Year of the Locust

This has been the year of the cicada in Tennessee and other parts of the South. Cicadas have invaded us like - well, like a plague of locusts from the Bible. Cicadas are sometimes called locusts, although, as I understand it, a true locust is more like a grasshopper.

These little buggers are not grasshoppers, but they do come in cycles. Our particular locusts are the 13 year cicadas. There are also 17 year cicadas and in Tennessee we have both. How lucky can you be?

We were told that they would come out this year. At first we didn't pay much attention. "I remember last time," said one friend, "and they were terrible. This year there are only a few."?

So much for that, we thought, but it was early. They were still underground and most had not yet immerged to put on their noisy spectacular.

How can I describe what they look like? To me they resemble a giant roach with the wings of a moth. But the prominent bug eyes that are bright orange are the worse part. They are without a doubt one of nature's ugliest creations.

At first I noticed only a few dead ones lying on the sidewalk. Well, they were dead, nothing to worry about there. They are not going to be nearly as bad as last time, I thought.

And I was right, they were not as bad as before -- they were worse. As the weather grew hotter, more of them began to emerge from their holes. They were looking for two things - food and sex. What can you expect? It's been 13 years.

They were everywhere. Their cricket-like calls filled the air as they sang their mating song. There were so many that the songs joined together in chorus and became a deafening drone. The hotter the day, the louder the song. They became so loud at the peak of the season that you could hear them inside with the doors and windows closed.

They claimed residence in the trees. Leaves were alive with the crawling bugs, which meant you needed to stay away from trees. I found this out the hard way when I walked too close to a low hanging limb and was buzzed by dozens of the critters.

They are suppose to be harmless to people. They do not sting or bite and supposedly do not carry any sort of disease. Still, who wants to be harassed by flying roaches?

Actually, I heard that they are crustaceans, which means they are of the same family as shrimp or lobsters. That's all I need, flying shrimp. Personally, I like my shrimp in the water until time to go to the restaurant.

Yes, a few crazy people actually cooked and ate them - more for the publicity than anything else, I think. They may eat bugs in Africa or China, but I'll pass on that delicacy, thank you.

The air became thick with swarms of insects crashing into windshields. The Interstate was cicada alley. The side of the road was littered with cicada bodied, victims of previous accidents.

It was impossible to keep them outside. Cicadas get inside your car and wreak havoc while you are driving.

I screamed the first time I saw one on my kitchen floor. Soon it became the norm. You simply swat them with a fly swatter and sweep them up. They even came down the chimney.

They seem to attack you outside. I don't know if it is deliberate or if they just don't watch where they are flying. One day a large bug dive-bombed right into my face.

Just when you think you can't stand it any longer, the season is over. The amorous bugs have had their fun and each female will lay about 500 eggs. Next time could be worse.

Bigger and better plagues may be coming soon. In the meantime, I can say, "I survived the cicadas of 2011."

Copyright 2011 Sheila Moss

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