Hermitage (#3)

Hmm… “You’re an interesting one,” I commented as camera and I encountered a large insect clinging to a blade of grass. It was virtually motionless and did not respond with either retreat or aggression to our presence.

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Very soon, we encountered others, some of whom appeared dead – or perhaps more accurately, “empty”. Were they shedding an old self in order to enter the world anew?

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Several times I found myself saying, “Who are you?” to the big red eyes that peered up at me. No answer was forthcoming – and despite the prominent eyes, I could not even tell if the little creature saw that I was there.

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It was not until I was home from the hermitage and again using the internet when I could further investigate what perhaps you have already guessed.

These little guys are cicadas. But not just any cicadas. These are Brood V 17-year periodical cicadas.

There are so-called “annual cicadas” that emerge every summer, though their life span is 2-10 years. We often associate their mating chorus with summer nights.

But these “Magicicada”, as the periodical cicadas are known, emerge only every 17 years (though there is also a type that emerges every 13 years), spending most of their long lives underground eating and developing.

When they finally do come to the surface after 17 years, their only purpose is to mate. So this particular “brood” last appeared above ground in 1999 to mate; these are their offspring.

And I was blessed to meet them.

God’s creation is so amazing. Why these insects that come above ground after so many years, with the number of years specifically being prime numbers? (Scientists study this and can only hypothesize…)

I could not make up such an extraordinary story if I tried. And yet our holy earth is replete with them…

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