We have been happy to answer so many questions about cicadas this summer. As they retreat back underground, it’s time to pause and consider what we’ve learned about them, and ourselves, from their reemergence.

Reemergence is a natural thing in the insect world. Cicadas, for example, schedule their loud return to the above ground world as a matter of necessity, enjoying a few weeks of cacophonous activity, followed by subterranean repose for another 17 years. The considerable length of time between reemergence suggests that it is not to be taken lightly.

Our human world is also in a period of reemergence, tentatively (or exuberantly, depending on your disposition) returning to the social interactions so necessary for our wellbeing and survival. As we make this return, let’s learn some things from our perfectly-timed insect friends:

1. There’s a spot for everyone: Some of us will return above ground effortlessly, zooming around exuberantly and causing quite a stir, while others  of us will loll in the green grass, or on the bark of a shady tree, or on a delicate stem in a fragrant garden. You do you - there’s a spot for          everyone.

2. Be charming, or be charmed: Half of the cicadas make a bunch of noise, intended to attract the other half who are waiting to be persuaded.  Decide whether you are the musician or the audience, and then do your best to make the other side feel comfortable and appreciated. Our  differences actually keep things moving along.

3. We belong here: We’ve waited patiently, and finally it’s time to reemerge and celebrate. Vaccines (we like science, too!) have made this moment possible, and we’re reading the low transmission rates as an invitation to normalcy. It may be hard coming from underground at first, but it’s where we belong. 

It’s entirely reassuring for us to witness Brood X’s return to the world, timed perfectly with our own reemergence. As we finally bid them adieu, returning to a quieter summer, consider what wisdom they might bring to this moment. And look forward to seeing them again in 2038.