Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Appalachian Word of the Week -- JAR FLY

Do you know what a JAR FLY is?

Did you ever hear them singing their song in the trees (their LOUD song) and search for them?

I loved to find them. And look at them. They were a fascinating bug. A BIG bug. With clear wings. That was the cool part of them for me.

But I never touched one. They were big, remember, and I was fearful of what must be big teeth inside them.

Now the problem with being afraid of something, especially if you have a brother, is that they think the greatest fun in the world is to catch the creature you are scared to death of and chase you around the neighborhood with it. Threatening to let it bite you.

My brother chased me with a JAR FLY
The JAR FLY, as we called it in Harlan County, is also called by other names in other locations. When I lived in Columbus, Ohio, I went outside one summer and the trees were alive with a similarly sounding bug. Not quite the JAR FLY song of my youth.

I soon learned they were Cicadas. Cicadas generally only show up every thirteen years or so.

The JAR FLY, however, comes every year, in the late summer. Some people call them DOG DAY CICADAS. Yes, they show up around August, during the dog days, and then disappear when autumn arrives.

I enjoyed the JAR FLY song. Some people complain that it is annoying.

Recently, in Atlanta, I walked outside and heard the familiar song coming from the Pine trees behind my house.

I smiled. Memories of youth rushed back. I even miss my brother being here to chase me around with a JAR FLY. If he was still alive, I might even let him catch me. Wonder what he would do. As I recall, he never caught up to me when we were kids. Probably on purpose.

Did you catch a JAR FLY when you were young? Do you hear them where you live today? Do you have a funny story about them?

If you'd like to see and hear a JAR FLY, click on the link below and it will take you to a Youtube video.


  1. The cat caught one a week ago. They are huge! The susurration irritates me, one of the things I dislike about summer.

    1. They can be loud, for sure. And persistent. Guess it's all about the need to hurry and mate.