There are a few of the little singers every year it seems. Like people, some are slow to develop and some are faster. I suppose that over the eons, that can make for some imperfect timing for a cyclical "plague." I'm speaking of the 17-year locust, you've probably figured out. Of course, there are also "13-year locusts," plus the cycles occur on different years in different zones. In addition, those zones tend to overlap by quite a few miles. I guess it's simple logic, then, that we'd hear at least a few every year.
As most of you know, it's not a locust at all, but a cicada. I imagine they were dubbed "locusts" by settlers to this country who'd never seen a real locust, like the ones in the Bible, but knew a plague when they saw one. Our country's version of an insect plague can certainly do a lot of damage to young trees of any kind. Fruit growers and nurserymen must knash their teeth during locust years. I have no idea their effect on corn, cotton, cane and other erect field crops. I know that there are actual grass-hopper plagues that do a lot of damage to crops and forage in some areas. The hoppers are sort of miniature versions of the locusts of the Bible, I guess you could say.
In another allusion to the Plagues of Egypt, My dad always told me the locusts were saying "pharaoh." From what I can gather, a lot of fathers have told that story over the last century or two. Can you imagine a new settler in this country seeing a locust year for the first time. They must surely have felt that it was a punishment from God, especially if they were starting an orchard.
Though I'd heard and seen a few of the big bugs before that time, my first locust year was in 1965. It was memorable not just for the sight of all those homely bugs keeping the air all aflutter at times, but also for the deafening hum that arose from the trees in the warm of the day. Like the night-time cacophony of the frogs on my granddad's swamp during a certain time of year, I can see how the sheer volume of their combined voices could drive a person "buggie." (Sorry, I HAD to say that!)
I was thinking that this would be a good year for folks with free-ranging chickens, geese and ducks, but my wife told me of seeing a few of their chickens nearly choking to death on the giant tidbits of protein. Still, some wildlife must surely have full bellies during the plagues. I was thinking that they should make good fish bait, too.
I've only heard of one person having been "stung" by a locust. He was old fellow with a history of sleeping late after a night on the town. I think he often woke up places in the out-of-doors. I suspect some maternally-driven locust climbed up on him and figured she had the softest "limb" she'd come across. That would HAVE to be a rude awakening!
We have a couple young apple trees I'm concerned about, and a pink dogwood, but I guess what will be will be. If you have them, I hope your damage is light. © 2016