I am not a big fan of bugs. It's not like I faint when I see them or anything... it's just that I prefer not to be around them. Unless I am at a zoo. And there is glass between me and the bugs.
So you can imagine my horror at having to research bugs when I need to draw them. And it happens more often than you'd think... most recently for issues of THRICE Fiction magazine. At first I'm always my usual squeamish self but, after looking at a few hundred photos of the little devils close-up, I start to appreciate their beauty. Often times they have features unlike anything else you can find on earth and it's not hard to appreciate this kind of artistry on such a small scale.
But I digress.
We've reached the time that a bizarre insect known as the cicada starts making one of their rare appearances. After seventeen years underground, they dig their way to the surface where they molt, eat, mate, then die... by the bazillions. We don't have cicadas here in my little corner of Washington State, but I've seen a cicada bloom before. It's pretty much "bugageddon," and the things are crawling everywhere... all while making crazy levels of noise. It's pretty creepy even if you aren't afraid of bugs. Fortunately it only lasts a couple weeks.
When my writer-friend (and frequent THRICE Fiction contributor) Susan Tepper mentioned that she was sweeping them off her home, a "Cicada Challenge" was born, and I had to draw her a picture of one.
I always thought that a poor cicada who spends seventeen years underground waiting for sex would be a little mental when it's finally time to dig his way out, so I gave him crazy eyes...
Along with the drawing, I also wrote this poem for Susan...
Fifteen years and two I'm sleeping
Dreaming of the day I'm leaping
Now it's time to start the humping
But before I get to jumping
I dig, I molt, I eat, I'm singing
Looking for a date I'm springing
Now I'm dead my shell is crushing
Susan's broom and deadly brushing
All those years of patient waiting
Biding time 'til I start mating
No chance now for happy screwing
A lust for love was my undoing
I should have stayed in bed
And now I can put cicadas behind me. Well, for seventeen years anyway.