Filed Under:

New Jersey Neighborhood Finds Ways to Live With Cicadas

Ten-year-old Markus Gokan has mixed feelings about the cicadas scattered around the yards and sidewalks of Summit, New Jersey.

"There's tons of them just squashed, just these flat, pancake cicadas that don't look very appetizing," Gokan says.

Yet he's not afraid to touch and handle un-squashed cicadas — to serve a higher purpose. "I did pick up a few, and I threw them at some people I don't like," he explains.

They screamed, he says, so for him his mission was successful.

A symphony of cicadas has been moving up the East Coast, with the constant hum in the tree-tops above and the crackling of carcasses underfoot.

Calla Duffield, a friend of Markus, isn't one of his a victims, but she is more in the screaming camp when it comes to cicadas. The other day, she started to take her dog Rufus out into the yard — and then thought better of it.

"I was out barefoot," Calla says, "and I almost stepped on one, so I ran inside, and I made my brother take the dog out."

Calla, Markus and probably most kids from Georgia to Connecticut have been studying periodic cicadas in school. They can tell you all about Brood II, as this group is classified. Calla's mom, Hannele Rubin, shares the kids' enthusiasm.

"What other creature do you know of that goes into hibernation for 17 years and then comes out of the ground just to mate and die?" Rubin says.

Down the street, Allison Leba fires up the leaf blower a couple times a day to blow the carcasses off the patio. The emergence of the cicadas came as a bit of a relief. Before they arrived, her dog Bailey was shaking for days. Leba thought the 12-year-old terrier might be nearing his end, but on the morning they went to the vet, Bailey mysteriously calmed down.

"And what it really was, we decided — the vet and I — was that it was the sound of the cicadas," she says. "She heard it before anyone else could hear it. She's fine now. She's adjusted to it, and she's happy."

Leba and others say the crimson-eyed critters and their otherworldly din are making them look at time differently.

"The cicada routine of every 17 years makes me think of my own mortality," Leba says. "So, as much as they're annoying, I think ... I'm grateful to see them, because God knows if I'll see them again in 17 years."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit


Christopher Marlowe Credited As Shakespeare's Co-Author On Henry VI Plays

True authorship of Shakespeare has been debated for centuries. Now, the New Oxford Shakespeare edition will list Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe as co-author on the three Henry VI plays, part one, two and three. NPR's Robert Siegel talks with Florida State University professor Gary Taylor, one of the general editors of the new volume.

2,500 Years Ago, This Brew Was Buried With The Dead; A Brewery Has Revived It

In an ancient burial plot in what is now Germany, scientists uncovered a cauldron with remnants of an alcoholic beverage. They teamed up with a Milwaukee brewery to re-create the recipe.
WAMU 88.5

Do Hyper-Local Term Limits Work?

Montgomery County residents are voting this fall on term limits for their local council representatives. Are they picking up on lessons learned from Prince George's County?

WAMU 88.5

AT&T’s Proposed Acquisition Of Time Warner

AT&T’s bid to acquire Time Warner: Join us to talk about what the proposed merger of the country’s second-largest wireless carrier and a major content company could mean for consumers and the future of U-S media and telecommunications.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.