The Local Voice

The View From The Balcony: “Zombie Cicadas and Kudzu”


This is a bifurcated column, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

This year’s crop of cicadas is unlike any before. So-called “Zombie” cicadas (almost exclusively males) are infected with a fungus that causes their fannies to fall off, taking their genitalia with them. I think Mother Nature is having a heyday with this one. She’s taking off male sex parts, giving them a huge dose of fungal Viagra, and turning them loose. The sex crazed cicadas go nuts-sans-nuts, trying to copulate with all the females he can. Unfortunately for him he’s got a serious case of absentius dingalingius, complicated by numbnius buttasaurus.

Sometimes the males will go so far as to pretend to be female to attract other male cicadas for fruitless mating. Unfortunately for the females, they are at times infected with the fungus themselves. I suppose this whole thing can be described as an incest—oops!—insect STD.

There are many ways to extrapolate on this tail—er, tale. Some cannot be put in print. Some should not be said aloud. Allegorically speaking, the Zombie Cidada plague could well be mirroring men’s domination and predatory sexual behavior toward women. Lately I’ve heard a myriad of stories from Oxford women who’ve been preyed upon by sleazeballs who appear to think that they have the right to make suggestive comments to women, touch them inappropriately, and out-and-out proposition them. With good cause, many women won’t go certain places or walk in certain places alone. The fact that they ACTUALLY DO have reason to be afraid is reprehensible.

So… What if scientists were able to collect the castrating fungus and put it in a canister like pepper spray—maybe call it “Weenie Whacker”? Based on how the fungus effects male cicadas, men sprayed with Weenie Whacker would go into a “freakin’” frenzy, not knowing their equipment has fallen off. Talk about bushwhackerus interruptus! Can you spell “poetic justice”?

Now to a different topic… If you’ve lived in the South for any time at all you know about kudzu. Kudzu was brought to the USA from Japan in the 1930s to help control soil erosion. Just like in the movie The Blob, kudzu spreads, taking everything in its wake.

Not everything about kudzu is bad, though. Sometimes kudzu sculptures formed by the vine swallowing trees and telephone poles are almost high art—performance art, I suppose, as it is always in motion. It’s like watching clouds and seeing the plethora of images they form.

Kudzu is also edible. I’ve never tasted it, though. Cicadas are also edible, but you’re not going to catch me eating one of them whether it’s fried, cooked in a taco, added to banana bread, or even dipped in chocolate! I would, however, taste kudzu as long as the DDT was washed off it. BTW, I think one of the reasons Delta folks can drink so much is that they rode their bikes in the DDT fog of mosquito trucks. Maybe they also ate kudzu that had been sprayed with DDT, which would explain a lot.

Brainstorm! What if scientists added some DDT to the deflowering fungus spray I mentioned earlier? Maybe call it “Pestercide”?

Kudzu was distributed through the newly-formed Soil Conservation Service, headed locally by what were called “County Agents.” My father was a County Agent for a while. I don’t know if he had anything to do with the kudzu invasion or not, but odds are he did.

I also had an uncle who was a County Agent about an hour’s drive from Oxford—not gonna say exactly where. A couple of weeks ago a person who knows my late uncle’s daughter (my cousin) quite well told me that, according to my cousin, her father was THE ONE who introduced kudzu to Mississippi. After that, kudzu and Mississippi fell in love, a union that soon turned into a love-hate relationship.

In semi-tangenital conclusion, I was thinking about names for bands. The Sterile Cicadas has a nice ring to it I do believe. And since my family is partly responsible for kudzu in Mississippi, do you think there’s any way I could be made an honorary Kudzu King? Stranger things have happened—or have they?

…and that’s the view from The Balcony.

Randy Weeks is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Certified Shamanic Coach. He can be reached at

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