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Posts Tagged ‘Washington Post’

The newspapers in our area are full of apocalyptic stories about Brood X periodical cicadas (Magicicada septendecim) that are starting to emerge in my neighborhood and in other parts of the United States after a seventeen-year stint underground. I have not seen many live cicadas, but there are dozens of discarded exoskeletons on my backyard fence and in my front yard tree, a few of which you can see in the second and third photos. I am not paranoid, but it does feel like they are surrounding me.

On Tuesday I photographed one cicada that was in the process of emerging. If you look closely at the first photo you will note that the cicada’s wings are not yet fully formed. They will eventually lengthen and become transparent. So far the cicadas have remained silent, but before long I expect to hear their deafening chorus, as the males compete to attract females by belting out their mating calls.

Yesterday the Washington Post had a story with the sensationalist title A fungus could turn some cicadas into sex-crazed ‘salt shakers of death.’  According to the authors of this article, “Yellow-white fungus grows inside the cicadas, filling their insides and pushing out against their abdomens. One by one, the rings that compose the back halves of their bodies slough off and fall to the ground. Driven by a chemical compound in the fungus — and now lacking butts and genitals — the bugs try to mate like crazy. Some researchers call these infected cicadas “flying salt shakers of death.” And they’re lurking among Brood X.” There is even a warning in the article, “Despite the amphetamine’s ability to control cicadas, no one should expect to feel a high from eating a fungus-infected insect.”

Yes, things are a little crazy here as we await the full-scale onslaught of the cicadas. I will try do an update posting in the upcoming weeks with more photos of these brooding, red-eyed insect invaders.

 

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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I don’t know if this Blue Dasher dragonfly is long in the tooth (do dragonflies have teeth?) or has simply had a tough life. How do you tell the age of a dragonfly? In any case, his wings are tattered and torn to such a degree that it is surprising that he can still fly. Yet I seem to detect a smile on his face, a reflection of contentment. (Yes, I know, I am guilty of anthropomorphism.)

Tattered wings,but still able to fly

I have been thinking about aging ever since Sunday when I read a wonderful column in the Washington Post by John Kelly entitled “You can learn a lot about growing old from a dog.” Kelly describes how the accelerated aging process of his dog has made him more conscious of the fact that he too is growing old. I recommend the article to all, but want to highlight the final paragraph of the column. Kelly concludes:

“Aging is unknown territory for each of us, despite the fact that humans have been doing it forever. I think there are worse ways to spend your final years than napping next to someone you love, dreaming of what was and what still might be.”

I doubt that this dragonfly will end his final days in peace and contentment like Kelly’s dog, but it is my fervent hope that we can accept the infirmities of growing old with grace and patience, and can focus—as this dragonfly appears to be doing—on the things that we are still able to do, on contributions that can make this world a better place.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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