Category Archives: 17 year cicada life cycle

Cicada: Is It Si-KAH-Da or Si-KAY-Da?

They came. They Shrieked. They mated. And then they were gone. We tweated, Facebook wall-posted and blogged about them. We named ourselves after them. (E.g., CicadaMania, CicadaPhobia, BuzzCicada, etc, are all well-known Twitter handle and Internet pseudonyms.) We created new word for their visit: Swarmageddon.

But there is an eternal argument that will never go away, even long after the Brood II swarmageddon’s over. And that is the pronunciation of the word “cicada.”

So do you say si-KAY-da, or si-KAH-da? Before you jump to your quick conclusion, watch a short and fun video of Zoe and Jennifer, who cross swords in a you-say-to-MAY-to-and-I-say-to-MAH-to duel: (Scroll down to the “Book Description” section to watch the video.)

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While you are here, cast your vote on whether “cicada” should be pronounced as “si-KAH-da” or “si-KAY-da.”

I, Cicada

My name is Troma. I am a commanding queen of this year’s crusaders of Brood II periodical cicadas. To the untrained eye, I look just like my countless minions. But if you ever see me up close, you will notice that I have striking red wings. When fluttering, they look like splattering blood.

For my minions, digging their way up through the ground and becoming airborne has been a fairytale. After seventeen years of subterranean living, dreaming the same dream every day, they finally got to see it come true. They went into their molting as mere ugly crawling bugs but come out as truly hideous flying cicadas.

For me, it had to be done with flair. I crawled onto a snarly branch of a tall tree, wove myself an orange cocoon, invited my childhood friend Popo inside and sealed the cocoon. Then I metamorphosed.

When I awoke, my cocoon was a translucent globe, basking in the warm sun. Every inch of my exoskeleton felt vibrant and elastic. Instead of those embarrassingly chubby diggers, I now had three pairs of elegant legs. And the sense of levitation was surreal. But for the feathery touch between my virgin feet and the silky inside of my cocoon, there was hardly any reminder of gravity.

My body had acquired a shiny patina. What had been my bumpy scapulae were now crisp wings. By my feet, as I had suspected, laid the carcass of Popo, mummified. Her beady red eyes had lost their glistening glamour. She had been my last meal. I had sucked every last bit of her hemolymph with abandon, slurping loudly as a great queen nymph should.

It had to be done. It’s been done that way for thousands of years and will continue to be done that way for thousands more. A queen nymph must feed on a seventeen-year-old female nymph, to mark her metamorphosis.

***

God created periodical cicadas as an ascetic species. As nymphs, our tubular bodies are decorated with annuli that mark the shell stretching we have to endure in our subterranean years. When a nymph has acquired seventeen rings on his or her body, he or she is ready to dig upward and follow the cicada dream.

I had seventeen rings. But unlike the nondescript amber rings ubiquitous on cicada nymphs, mine were exquisitely green, like tomato vines. That rare hue was my badge of honor for cannibalism.

I was not born a cannibal. If I were, would I ever have had a childhood friend? I can’t fully explain how I had managed to keep my sucker off Popo for seventeen long years. But I was a queen nymph, poised to become a cicada queen and to command a million-cicada army. Following the example of my fellow great rulers in the animal kingdom, I sometimes behave unpredictably on purpose, just to inspire fear in my subjects. I kept Popo alive because I wanted to be unpredictable. Also, I had always wondered how she would taste when she was seventeen.

***

I am named Troma after the deadly venom that invaded and commandeered me when I was a baby nymph. The cicada in me and the venom in me have since thrived in symbiosis. All queen nymphs are chosen by Troma.

The venom comes to possess a chosen female nymph by way of a fungal spore. I do not know where I came into bodily contact with a Troma fungus. There was no sting. No pain. No lesion. Not even a visible patch of moisture or slime. But the tenacious fungal virus infected my body one day.

I felt it the next day. I was ravenously hungry, but I had no more appetite for tree milk. When the soil cooled down at night, a sharp itch shot through me, head to tail. And it would repeat throughout the night.

The itch would turn into a subtle pain and, as the days went by, into a sharp one. I was starved and terrified as I witnessed my shell hardening into armor and my sucker sharpening into a dagger.

Then I came to terms with Troma when she became my brain, and I her soil. I realized that I would simply die if I went on fasting.

From then on, I burrowed around and hunted for the most odorous female nymphs. I feasted on their gooey innards and slept with their corpses. A piece of advice from Troma: To learn to rule is to learn to kill.

All male nymphs will become male cicadas one day. The moment they crawl out of their nymph shells after molting and start to fly, there will be only one thing on their mind: Mating. They will rush toward where there is female scent, in the most reckless fashion.

With the behemoth female scent I possess, I have begotten myself an army of shrieking, sex-crazed kamakazes.

***

Through the hole I licked to escape my cocoon, I hear the buzzing of male cicadas already swarming in heat. Obviously, the intensity of my scent drives them insane. The smellier a female cicada, the more desirable she is.

As I dive into the open air, dazzled by the sun and chased by an army of brilliantly winged male cicadas, I realize that I have truly become the mythical cicada queen.

I beguile my army of suitors along an uncharted path, bouncing through rays of sunlight in the forest.

It is all part of the deal, I think to myself. At a pit stop atop a tree, I let the winner of the long chase rest upon me and fertilize the first batch of eggs in my belly. Every cicada queen before me has left a long trail of dead female nymphs.

I dive into the sky again. This time, I lead the my army into a low cruise just above the ground. Such a stunt invites cicadas in the nearby trees to join, male and female alike. If my fleet has started as a flying carpet in the sky, now it looks like a black tornado twister menacing the land.

Straight ahead, a honeycomb-shaped human abode stands taller than the tallest tree, and wide as a hill. I lead my army in a reconnaissance circle around it. When we try to approach the humans, I see them react with melodramatic facial expressions and wild gesticulations. And many of my suitors crash into the invisible shields the humans have placed in the shell of their abode.

But I find an opening near the ground in the shell. Hundreds of thousands of cicadas faithfully follow me into a long, dark tunnel.

This is a gamble. But there is a great chance that we can come in contact with the humans.

Once we get inside, we need to find our way up. All the humans we have seen seem to be perched on higher levels of the abode.

To trust myself is to trust Troma.

A Five-Year-Old Reviews “My Life as a Cicada”

A reader, by the nickname of “Happy Mom,” has posted a review on “My Life as a Cicada.” It is a two-part review, with comments from her five-year-old and herself. The review can be found here: http://amzn.to/18aKPtI.

I found the five-year-old’s review particularly encouraging and inspiring. It says:

 “That story is cool. The teeth on the bad termites: I didn’t like them. They scared me a little bit. The whole story is about sometimes when I meet new things, not being accustomed to them, I’m afraid like the cicada. I liked the whole rest of it, too. I wish I could see it again someday. And I love the whole story.”

In the book, I portray the termites as the street bullies and a symbol for the menace of the subterranean world. Apparently, that’s taking effect on the juvenile readers. And if I’ve ever successfully packaged a polemic message in the book, it has been summarized well by this five-year-old: it’s about our fear for strangers.

Just like what Epictetus told us: What scares us is not the things themselves; rather, it is our perception of things. With “My Life as a Cicada,” I intend to present these infrequent yet en masse visitors as vulnerable creatures.

Confucius says: Isn’t it a joy when a visitation from afar is upon us? Let us rejoice at the sight of cicadas. The swarm of these mysterious bugs reflects the wisdom of God or Nature. We should accord them the same peace and respect we do to God’s or Nature’s other creations.

 

“I, Cicada,” My New Short Fiction Appears on Fiction365 today.

“I, Cicada,” my new short fiction appears on Fiction365 today. Free for all: http://www.fiction365.com/2013/06/i-cicada/

Children’s Illustration Book “My Life as a Cicada” Jumps to #2 Spot for Hot New Release

The latest release from Red Lantern Press, a children’s illustration book by M. Eigh, titled “My Life as a Cicada,” has jumped to the #2 spot in the “Bugs and Spiders” category on Amazon today, as shown in the following screen capture.

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Currently, the book is on a 99¢ special. You can grab a copy here if you act quickly.

Robin Lee, Robin Lee, who wears Amazon’s coveted “TOP 500 REVIEWER” badge, has read “My Life as a Cicada” together with her niece and given it a professional review. She’s given the book a 5-star rating. You can see her review here: http://amzn.to/16mmJYX.

Robin Lee, Niece Like “My Life as a Cicada” and Give it a 5-Star

Robin Lee, who wears Amazon’s coveted “TOP 500 REVIEWER” badge, has read “My Life as a Cicada” together with her niece and given it a professional review. She’s given the book a 5-star rating. You can see her review here: http://amzn.to/16mmJYX.

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The following is the review Robin has posted on Amazon, verbatim:

I downloaded this book to read with my niece…School is over but this has been a topic the teachers have been talking to the students about in her class the last few weeks….This story about the “Cicada Bug” and it’s life cycle is adorable..It’s the easiest way to explain to little ones about these very large and loud bugs with big red eyes that they may be scared of…Especially, when they start hearing the shrilling sounds, or finding one lying on the ground…Beautiful, bright colored, large illustrations showed up really nice on her kindle….Plus the story rhymes, which are her favorite type of books and make her giggle….

The story starts out with a baby nymph, crying underground knowing she is now 17 yrs old and wishing she could be a beautiful butterfly instead….She knows once she changes she will be ugly and scary looking to people…This will show how cute they really look and how harmless they really are…The “Cicadas” tell children they more scared themselves because of natural predators like termites and birds….

This sweet book will show you that a “picture is worth a thousand words…..My niece loved it…..I highly recommend this book for all children…..

 

FREE BOOK on Amazon: “My Life is as a Cicada”

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“My Life as a Cicada” by M. Eigh, free on Amazon June 21, 2013

There has been way too much hype. There has been way too much contagious emtomophobia spreading in the American populace. What is the big deal about the swarm of cicadas? Why is it that everyone feels so justified on Twitter, Facebook or other social media when they express their disgust toward the cicadas?

Confucius told us to rejoice when a visitation from afar is upon us. There is a great deal of wisdom in his advice: there is always a reason for something to be here with us, to be our company, or simply to be in our way. There is a great deal of logic in the way nature dictates how everything work together, how we humans and other animals fit into the food chain. If God created us, he/she also created cicadas. Much as we humans have a reason to be here, cicadas do too.

With “My Life as a Cicada,” I want to show the vulnerability of this bug; the vulnerability of all life forms. This book elegantly illustrates the fascinating life cycle of cicadas along the plot of a dramatized story: the long journey of a cicada nymph trapped underground for seventeen years; the friendly and hostile subterranean creatures he encounters; and last but not least, his triumphant debut in the above-ground world of the sun, the moon and open air to fly in.

This book portrays the natural drama that transpires in a periodical cicada’s mysterious life cycle. People say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, this book has about 20 pictures, and that’s worth 20,000 words!

You will love it. Your kids will love it!

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Red Lanterm Press Publishes “My Life as a Cicada” by M. Eigh

A bug’s life told in beautiful prose and pictures.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Jun. 14, 2013 – ARLINGTON, Va. Red Lantern Press – an Arlington, VA based independent Publishing house specializes in niche imprints – has published “My Life as a Cicada” by M. Eigh.

“My Life as a Ciacada”(http://amzn.to/15ZnnLZ) is dramatized but truthful illustration of a 17-year periodical cicada’s myterious yet dramatic life cycle. People say a picture is worth a thousand word, well, this book as 24 beautiful pictures. That is worth 24,000 words!

This book is produced and written by M. Eigh and illustrated by Bogdan Lucut. It tells the long journey of a cicada nymph trapped underground for seventeen years; the friendly and hostile subterranean creatures he encounters; and last but not least, his triumphant debut in the above-ground world of the sun, the moon and open air to fly in.

It’s suitable for both adult and children. Parents and kids and enjoy a cicada’s life story together.

About M. Eigh

M. Eigh was born in China and, before getting an MBA, he received a BSc from China’s prestigious Tsinghua University, where most modern day Chinese ruling elites obtain their academic pedigree. But the alma mater is about the only thing he has in common with the techno-dictators of today’s China.

In his younger days, M. Eigh was a published poet in Chinese; at the age of fifteen, he won the first-place award in a prefecture-wide youth literature competition.

Other than “My Life as a Cicada,” M. Eigh has a short fiction collection, titled “Bitter Tea and Braided Hair” on sale.(http://amzn.to/136nIdT) His latest Science Fiction thriller, “The Cicada Survival Guide,” is a Amazon hit.(http://amzn.to/19cCeFr)

M. Eigh has al written a non-fiction that makes sense of all things curious in today’s China, entitled “Revolution is a Dinner Party — Rogue Pluralism in China.” (http://amzn.to/Z6TFmR)

Media Contact:

M. Eigh
Red Lantern Press
571-488-1568

M. Eigh Interviews with CicadaPhobia

Lori Milani, a.k.a. “CicadaPhobia,” has been featured in a WashingtonPost special on Cicada on May 18. (http://bit.ly/109Q621) Lori did an extensive interview with the M. Eigh on May 30. For those who are interested in how the book “The Cicada Survival Guide” was conceived, please hop over CicadaPhobia’s site and read the interview. (http://bit.ly/11dWdQO)

An Amazon TOP 500 REVIEWER Reviews The Cicada Survival Guide

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I woke up to some blessing this morning. Robin Lee, who wears Amazon’s coveted “TOP 500 REVIEWER” badge, has read “The Cicada Survival Guide” and given it a professional review. You can see the book’s review page here: http://amzn.to/10Vk4lc.

Robin said the following about the book:

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“Biological Weapons”

This author wrote an excellent novella in a unique way..It is a mixed recipe, of an escaped man made virus, government conspiracy, cover-ups, and the emergence of Brood II….Which Scientists predict this year, the Cicadas will be in colossal numbers….It’s not just a survival guide, but a possible real depiction of an ecological disaster…This story is dark humor, intriguing, gross, thought provoking and real horrifying….The characters could have been fleshed out more but for this part of the story they are not the main point……Each new chapter is told from the characters view point…..

Through the yrs a biological infectious agent has seeped into the fungus of the trees…The Cicadas have been feeding off this for 17 dormant years….It has been named “Troma” and the bugs are brand new mutations, that Americans are unaware of…This new species smells the scent of blood and seeks it out…If you have a open cut, you better hide, because this is a blood born pathogen of death….The symptoms are: severe itchiness, complete disintegration of your body, eventually takes command of your brain and drives you insane….It takes 72 hrs for the full effect….
This is not a zombie novel because the infected don’t reanimate, they just become deadly killers in every way….

Warning: If you see a large Cicada with bright red blood colored metallic wings, instead of their green ones, you better run fast…..

This novel was just excellent.I hope this author thinks about continuing this as a series for the summer it has really great potential..I personally would like to see a Part 2 and 3……