October 18, 2017

Bizarre Invasion Nears

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Each day should pass as though it were our last.  –Publilius Syrus (ca. 50 B.C.)

While citizens fret about the timid national press, dysfunctional politicians, high speed roads through once tranquil Sedona neighborhoods and alien landings in Cornville, what you are about to read may propel you, gentle reader, into the swelling ranks of the Nervous Nellies.

It can be reported for the first time that a Special Excentric Task Force dedicated to guarding human health has discovered a potential threat. Reminiscent of a grade B horror film, even as you read this, countless creatures could be scrambling around looking for a love partner—and some say, Big Trouble.

Are we talking about more tourists?

No, that’s not even close because they love sex without the purpose of making babies!

Are they missionaries seeking to convert Sedona’s realtors?

Well, that’s closer because they are red-eyed and they don’t bite or sting, but they do make lots of noise, and their sole purpose IS mating.

A scientist at the Pink Nectar Café advises that a single male’s shrill courtship call can reach 90 decibels, equivalent to a kitchen blender—a din that can overpower ringing cell phones, mother-in-law rants, lawn mowers and power tools. This is not good news for outdoor events over the next few weeks.

Already early warning systems are clanging with cautionary sounds. Sensing an early arrival, the annual Bumblebee Mozart Festival has been postponed. Outdoor weddings in Clarkdale have been put on hold until enough tents and louder trumpet players can be found —and the Cornville Symphony is overbooked indefinitely.

By the billions they come, darkening the skies in many states. Back in the old days, reporters for the town’s other, smaller paper thought it was the start of a terrorist attack. Scientists saw the situation in cooler biological terms. One expert at Yavapai College volunteered that the incoming creatures were from Mars, an emerald ash borer that can kill trees quicker than the flash of a quail’s wing.

A wiser analysis came from Aristotle Huxley, staff biologist at the Live Poets Society up in Oak Creek Canyon. As he sees it, the problem is campers that bring firewood infested with deadly bugs into the forest. So as his story goes, the deadly bugs are transformed into invasive species of all kinds and become the problem. With all due respect, the danger is not that great yet, since the outbreak is expected first in northern Illinois, and in parts of Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana.

The other good news is that these creatures live only about 30 days since birds, squirrels and pets, especially dogs, love to eat them. Fortunately, they are high in protein. With all due respect to the experts, these creatures are not from outer space; they do not turn into goddesses, and in truth, they’ve been on earth longer than humans.

You guessed it, smart reader; we’re talking about Hemiptera, suborder Auchenorrhycha, with big eyes wide apart on the head and usually transparent, well-veined wings. There are approximately 2,500 species around the globe, and many remain unclassified. They live in temperate to tropical climates where they are one of the most widely recognized of all visitors, mainly due to their large size and remarkable (and often inescapable) acoustic talents. People not in the know sometimes call them “locusts.” No, if anything they are related to spittlebugs.

Contrary to misleading reports in the mainstream press, these creatures do not bite or sting, are benign to humans, and are not considered a pest. Many people around the world regularly complement their menus with them: the female is prized for eating as it is meatier. And while they haven’t turned up on any menus in Sedona, they are considered delicacies in Page Springs, China, Malaya, Burma, Australia, North and South America and the Congo.

In so called backward countries, these creatures are employed in the traditional medicines of China and Japan for hearing-related matters, ironic, considering that they are known for the mating song the males of the species make.

The Greeks refer to them as tzitzikia or tettix. Okay, now comes the time for the truth. The red-eyed, shrimp-sized, flying insect IS Tettigarctidae, otherwise known as the cicada.

Duck! Here comes one now.

CRASH.

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