The cicadas are all over the place and their mating calls sound like the giant ants in the 1950s sci-fi movie, “Them!”

This is my third infestation of the 17-year locusts, which are really not locusts at all. As written and played everywhere, it will take about six weeks for the life cycle to make its turn before the baby bugs go back into the earth for another long sleep.

One has to marvel that the bugs live underground for so long just so that they can come up and mate. It must be something really worth waiting for, but we will leave that issue to Dr. Phil and his ilk.

In the meantime, they are certainly having an effect on just about everything. I keep wondering what happens to the critters who happened to have been nesting underground in areas which are now shopping centers and residential developments.

I mean, it has to be a rude awakening to push upward through the ground and get to that big honeymoon only to whack one’s red-eyed heat on the asphalt of a parking lot or the expanse of a Wal-Mart floor.

I have bought a little red Mini Cooper convertible. I have not had a convertible for some 30 years, and I really have looked forward to driving it. Now, however, it is a cicada magnet. At the end of every day, I need clean out my collection of bugs.

The dogs, too, seem to like the insects and knock them off of low hanging leaves and fences. The scotties like to nose them along as if they were toys. The beagle, on the other hand, is trying to eat them (but then, the beagle tries to eat everything).

She is very particular, so I guess there is a difference in the taste and quality of the various cicadas which she finds. Some she mulches and spits out, shaking her head as she goes. Some go down the gullet. As a result, my driveway has a number of chewed up cicadas which have been rejected as gourmet fare lying around.

I have read that it is OK for the dogs to eat the crispy varmints, even to the point of gorging and vomiting. Apparently, they are good source of protein, if they stay down. If not, the dogs will just start over. Although there are recipes floating around for people, as well, I am definitely taking a pass.

The other day, I noticed a man with a butterfly net and a large, plastic bag out hunting the cicadas. I am just guessing that either he has pet reptiles or birds to feed or is collecting them for sale to pet shops or the zoo. I hear that the zoo is using them as an alternative to crickets for snakes and lizards and various birds, freezing some for next year when the cicadas will be snugly back in their underground bunkers.

Another interesting development is the arrival of sea gulls. One would think gulls would have to have a decent sized body of water to hang around for food. Since they are somewhat of a scavenger bird, all the leftover foodstuffs and other litter left on beaches might be quite a draw.

But, we have become such litter pigs in shopping centers, that the gulls are now coming inland to feast on fallen french fries, candy remains and whatever else has been left behind. Now they have cicadas to gorge on, so it is not unusual to see gulls competing with the usual sparrows, robins, cardinals and grackles for the bugs.

The bugs are a great backdrop to outdoor weddings and graduations. One has to admit that in the realm of memories, any wedding or graduation or other backyard event will always reflect the year that the cicadas came. Their spent shells and remains will be great for gardens everywhere, though uncovered saplings and bushes may pay the price of having the female cicada lay her eggs in their tender shoots.

Those insect gals can make some pretty good slashes in young trees and bushes, the scars living on for years to come if the tree or bush survives. One sees a number of gift wrapped trees and bushes around in the hopes of dissuading the bugs from nesting there.

By the time they are gone, we will have seen cicada jewelry, cicada paperweights and other memorabilia to help us recall their 17th year. It will give us something to show the youngsters too small to notice or those yet to come so that they will know that, someday, they, too, will get to see a most interesting part of nature and the life cycle.

Thanks to the Des Plaines Valley Council, Boy Scouts of America, for one of their 2007 Outstanding Community Leadership Awards. As a former den mother, I was very honored.

My praise to others who were honored as well: Riverside’s Larry Wert of NBC, Stickney Village Clerk Arthur Rawers (a great American Legion advocate), former Riverside Trustee Cindy Gustafson and Westchester President Paul Gattuso, who is also owner of Paul’s Pizza and Hot Dogs, Inc.

It was illustrious company, to say the least. It was very nice to see so many public officials out for the honors breakfast at Riverside Golf Club.