“C’mon be a brave mummy” The 5 stages of my cicada season desensitisation

Girl holding up cicada shell

Creepy crawlies give me the heebie-jeebies. I live in fear of spiders, I freak if a cockroach scatters across the floor in front of me and I really would just prefer it if all insects would live outside.

But every year I am forced to undergo a sort of desensitisation process when it comes to cicadas. My son is OBSESSED with them. And because he loves them so, I try to as well.

Here are the five stages I go through.

Stage one: “But mummy it’s just the shell!”

Before being deafened by their, “Hey baby, I’m over here” mating chirps, my little guy starts collecting the brown crunchy shells of his favourite insect. Pretty soon all of my Tupperware is being used to house them.

He wants me to be as excited by them as he is. Although I may freak at first when he places one on my shirt giggling, after a few days I am pointing them out on the trees for him to grab.

Child hands holding cicada shell

Stage two: “I found a live one!”

The next stage in my therapy, involves my son grabbing my hand and leading me with excitement to look at all the live cicadas he’s found on the trees. Some have just broken out of their shells and have wings that are still unfolding.

At this point, I marvel at their life cycle while keeping my distance. 


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Cicada on tree

Stage three: “Would you like to buy a dead cicada?”

When the live ones my son has found start dropping like flies, they quickly fill up a new batch of containers – and the pretend games start.

“Mummy, would you like to buy a dead cicada? Which one would you like? C’mon be a brave mummy and pick one up!”

At this point I feel less anxious and actually start to pick them up – but only if they are dead as well, a cicada on day four.

Stage four: “Can you please sticky tape him back together?”

When my boy gets attached to a particular dead black prince, inevitably it will break. A wing or head will fall off from all that pretend play, or it will simply decompose.

When he asks me with his pleading brown eyes if I will, “Please sticky tape him back together,” I can’t say no.

And at this stage, I am also surprisingly unfazed by touching it.

Stage five: “Can you help him, mummy?”

While I still won’t willingly touch the live ones, there is one occasion when I will.

When my son alerts me that one of his beloved ‘cardies’ needs my help, I step up.

When I see the innocent creature who has spent seven long years underground being attacked by a garden lizard after freshly coming out of his shell, my mother instincts kick in. I’ll flick off the lizard with a stick and then gently, ever so gently – and bravely I might add – pick it up by the wings and place it high on a branch, out of harm’s way (well, until a bird spots it). 

At this moment I realise I have overcome my fear of them! My son tells me I am such a “brave mummy” and I grin.

I am. Well, until next year when I will need to undergo the same cicada desensitisation program, that is.

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