OPINION COLUMNS

The cicada seminar

By Gerre Joiner | Published Saturday, July 12, 2014

Received a phone call from one of my Greenwood friends today.

A.C. Griffin told me he had been bitten by a grasshopper while he was out in his cucumber patch. Said it hurt like crazy.

Gerre Joiner

Gerre Joiner

I mentioned to A.C. that this wasn’t going to look good on his resume.’ Complaining profusely about a grasshopper bite didn’t look too “manly.”

On further questioning, he told me that he was just kidding about the grasshopper and that he had been bitten by a cicada.

Who among us calls this critter a “katydid?”

Anyhow, he was bitten. He was hurtin’. He was bleedin’. He had to quit picking cucumbers and go into the house to clean up.

A few thoughts regarding cicadas:

  • They’re closely related to crickets.
  • The katydid derives its name from the male’s repetitive call, which has been phoneticized as “katydid, katy-didn’t.” (I’m guessing there’s a story here.)
  • Katydids feed chiefly on plant matter, though they also eat other insects.
  • They’re especially aggressive (particularly in Finland, according to the Internets).
  • Katydids have fairly good vision, though they don’t see well at night.
  • The male’s mating call sound is produced by rubbing his wings together.
  • Hopping away is the little bug’s best line of defense. However, when threatened, they use their powerful jaws to inflict a painful bite to the source of the threat.

I’m wondering:

  • Did A.C.’s finger look like something good to eat?
  • Did the short-sighted cicada not see him well enough on a sunny morning to determine that his finger was not on his regular “plant matter” menu?
  • Was A.C.’s bug a Finnish cicada?
  • Or … did A.C. disturb this poor fellow while he was rubbing his wings together?

In any case, A.C. will remember the bug and the bite for a while.

On another matter: Ken Jones received a phone call while at the coffee shop. He answered his cell phone, listened a while, then said, “Can I call you back later? I’m in the middle of a seminar right now.” We were talking about cicadas.

(I made that up.)

Gerre Joiner is a semi-retired church musician and has lived in Decatur since 1999.

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