If you've ever lived in an area where cicadas have hatched in large quantities, then you know what an experience it can be. Cicadas are harmless, kind of cute, big bugs with usually red, googly eyes who just live to breed during their short lives. Every so often, a large quantity will hatch up out of the ground, and invade a region while they swarm around, to look for potential mates.
A cicada invasion is incredibly loud if you're in the middle of it. There is a pulsing roar of collective cicada chirping, that is ongoing and can actually hurt your ears if exposed to it for too long. The sound is so intense, that you have to go around closing all the windows to keep the noise out.
Also, cicadas fly and attach themselves to whatever they can, everywhere, including you if you're in their line of vision. If you have houseplants outdoors, for example, they will cover them so it's best to bring in delicate plants that could be damaged by them. Cicadas don't eat plants, aren't poisonous and are nothing more than loud, climbing bugs. Don't be surprised if your dog or cat finds them strangely delicious. A little crunchy protein snack never hurt them any. My cat used to bring in cicadas (the ones he didn't eat) from off the balcony and drop them at my feet. Lucky me. To him, they were moving play-toys and cat treats at the same time. He was proud to present me with his trophy, a buzzing, and very much still-alive bug, whom I'd then escort back outside. Watch that your pets don't bring in more of them when you aren't looking, I found a cicada stash in the corner behind my couch a few days after the invasion subsided as my cat looked on, trying to look innocent.
If you see brown shells that look like cicada nymphs, know that those are their exoskeletons that they shed before becoming adults. When they are ready to hatch, the cicada just pushes way out of the top of it, then dries his new wings off and flies away. The exoskeleton retains its shape, and becomes more brittle. During cicada invasions, you can see many of them littering roads and streets. And, when the bugs start to die off, then you see them lying around, too. It's better to stay inside whenever you're in the midst of a full cicada invasion, until the whole thing passes.
Just know that if you do encounter a swarm of cicadas invading your area, they won't hurt you and are only there temporarily. They don't bite, and are basically slow-moving and friendly. I don't mind them, as long as they aren't inside my home. Don't be alarmed, just close your windows and soon, the bug storm will pass as fast as it came.
Carolyn McFann is a scientific and nature illustrator, who owns Two Purring Cats Design Studio, which can be seen at: http://www.cafepress.com/twopurringcats . Educated at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, Carolyn is a seasoned, well-traveled artist, writer and photographer. Besides handling numerous assignments in the US, she has lived and worked in Cancun, Mexico. Clients include nature parks, museums, scientists, corporations and private owners. She has been the subject of tv interviews, articles for newspapers and other popular media venues.