The recent wave of cicadas has turned out to be more than just a curiosity for one upstate man in Greenwood, SC. Jim Furlong said he was behind his house in his rock garden meditating Friday afternoon when a female cicada inserted eggs under the skin on the back of his neck. He explained that the cicada’s activities went unnoticed as he was in a “deep, trance-like state” at the time.
Furlong said he had been meditating for roughly two hours on the day of the incident. He didn't notice anything unusual until afterwards when he began his post-meditating ritual of massaging hemp oil into the “sacred chakara [sic] regions found along a central line on the body.” It was then that he noticed a small mass under the skin on the back of his neck.
Furlong drove himself to Self Regional Healthcare that same night and was admitted at approximately 2 A.M. Saturday. According the medical report provided by Furlong, a small salmon colored sack containing insect eggs of an “unknown origin” was removed from a small incision just below his “vertebral prominens”, (the base of his neck).
The report also states the “…eggnest is of the correct color and size to be cicada eggs; however, further analysis is required.”
According to Michelle Fiana-Cornbriker, a biology professor at USC, female cicadas make a small incision in the bark of various trees or shrubs using their ovipositors. The females then insert 400 to 600 eggs into the incision, which will later turn salmon in color before hatching.
Fiana-Cornbriker said that in theory it is possible for a cicada to mistake a human for a tree or shrub if the person were to remain motionless for an extended period of time; however, she is not aware of any cases where this occurred and believes it is unlikely.
Dr. Vernon Muhamadridja, on the other hand, said in 1816 a Dr. Wigfaw Youngblood reported a case in which a cicada inserted eggs into a comatose patient at the Springdale Hospital and Asylum in Alabama. The cicada probably entered the hospital through one of the windows which were kept open during the summer months. The case was published in The American Journal of Medical Biographies and Lateral Inquiries.
According to the article, the cicada eggnest was not noticed while the patient was alive, but the cicada nymphs were found during an autopsy of the patient by medical students from a nearby university. The nymphs had, upon hatching, burrowed through the flesh of the patient and attached themselves to several skeletal structures in an attempt to mimic their normal cycle of burrowing through the ground in order to find and attach to roots for sustenance.