Maybe you’ve done it too.
The Cicada Dance. You know, that fast-step jig to get across the lawn or driveway and avoid the crunchy shells left behind by this year’s generation of locust-like bugs that have swarmed western Pennsylvania.
Sisters Stacy and Amy Blystone had some home therapy ordered by their grandmother, Rose Blystone, to get them over their distress.
Their grandma, wife of popular country Pastor Reid Blystone, sat the girls down with a bottle of Elmer’s Glue and a craft-making assignment that put them hands-on with the creepy cicada exoskeletons.
“It was a way to be not as squeamish with them and it worked,” Stacy said Monday.
It was two generations ago, in terms of the 17-year cicada life cycle, in 1985, when the sisters replicated their community drill team, the Shelocta Shilohs — compete with color guard, flags, marchers and even a drummer — with 38 cicada shells.
Now married and with their own families, Stacy Ewert, or Oregon, and Amy Craft, of Gibsonia, reflected on the project that their grandma and parents, Vern and Jeanne Blystone, saw fit to preserve and bring out for display with the new generation of cicadas
“We just had so many. We collected them and decided to do this,” Ewert said.
“As kids we thought they were disgusting. We did that dance when we went out to the car. We did not like them at all.
“But my grandma was trying to get us to appreciate bugs. She helped us pick shells from the trees and study them.”
Stacy said she and Amy both twirled batons and silks in the Shilohs marching unit, a common entry in local parades and community events of the day. They even marched in the 1983 Jimmy Stewart 75th anniversary celebration.
“My grandma was good at preserving those things,” Stacy said. “As kids it was a project, but my grandma really saved it.”
Stacy, 45, was 11 when they made the marching cicada brigade. Amy was about 9. They were in about fifth and fourth grade, according to their memory.
“Those are great pictures and bring back memories. I remember there being hundreds of those shells all over the trees and ground,” Amy replied after seeing some photos of the cicada Shilohs by email.
True to cicada tradition, Vern and Jeanne Blystone’s yard in rural Washington Township was crisp with bug shells and chattery with the roaming insects Saturday when they brought their daughters’ project out of storage and reminisced.
Ewert said she might help her own kids get over feelings of ickiness with a similar project.
“Coming home to Pennsylvania this summer will be a gold mine for us,” she said.