Wednesday, May 28, 2008

On Bug Alert

My yard is crawling with bugs! Not just with the typical ants and spiders and bees either. The Periodical Cicadas have arrived in Wayne, West Virginia. I don’t remember the last time they emerged. I was too involved in raising little ones while going to college full-time to pay much attention to them in 1991.

After five days of watching the pupa struggle to make it from the ground to a tree…or a foot if that’s the closest thing above ground, I’m ready for them to be gone. I can’t go out in the yard and sit in a lawn chair without first swiping off abandoned exoskeletons or shaking off the adults resting before the next portion of their life cycle. And the crunching underfoot is just nasty!

Being the curious person that I am, I went online to learn when we would be relieved of this invasion. Unfortunately we have three to four weeks left. There are some positive points to these buggies. The yard is being aerated without the cost and effort of renting a mechanical aerator. The chickens are having a feast every day…so much that they are getting picky, passing up the drying adults for the softer, white ones as they emerge from the exoskeleton. The sound is quite a nice change from the sound of cars racing by our house constantly. In fact, the bug song is now changing from a sci-fi type whirring, reminiscent of the old 40’s space movies, to a buzz saw-type chorus of clicking. The adults are fun to use as projectiles at unsuspecting family members, although as they age, they protest being thrown with an irritated-sounding click (the bugs, not the family members!).

While reading about the cicadas, I discovered why I’ve been seeing so many young trees decorated in netting in yards around the area. These bugs are not just an annoyance. They are going to be leaving damage in their wake. See, the adult females love to lay their eggs on young maple, apple, and dogwood trees. To do this, they make a slit in the bark of the branches and lay the eggs in the slit. The eggs hatch, the young feed on some of the inside of the branches before making their way into the ground to attach to roots deep in the earth for the next 17 years. The result of these slits will be seen later in the summer as the branches start wilting from the slit outward. These branches will then fall off, leaving the tree looking like an arborist took a couple spins on a merry-go-round before grabbing the pruners.

When I realized the danger to my pink dogwood tree, I decided I better do something about it right now. I planted the tree three years ago and I noticed a few weeks ago how nicely shaped it has become. If I leave it to the cicadas, the shape will be damaged and that damage may take years to recover from.

That thought process reminded me how damaging little hidden sins can be in my own life. Ignoring the little things like carelessly misspoken words or words thrown out in anger, inflicts little wounds that, if left unanswered for, will damage the recipient and the relationship between me and that person. I need to be as diligent to exposing hidden sins once I am aware of them, as I intend to be preventing cicada damage on my dogwood tree. More diligent actually, since the cicadas only cause temporal damage and sin, left unaccounted for, can cause eternal damage.

“Who perceives his unintentional sins? Cleanse me from my hidden faults…Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You, LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:12; 14 (HCSB)

Being Molded by the Master’s Hand (Jeremiah 18:6),