Hooray, the cicadas are here! Their brisk, vibrating song provides an interesting backdrop to these hazy June days and more than compensates for the temporary inconvenience of their surprising numbers. So why slaughter them? Why does a contest at a local radio station involve the collecting and weighing of bags of these living insects in order to win a prize?

The singing cicadas are only attempting to attract mates and continue the species as they are instinctively driven to do. It is unconscionable to collect them as if they were inanimate objects and even worse to encourage other people to do this. The little critters should be valued for their song, their tenacity and their show of gestational patience rather than for their dead weight. CECELIA H. TILLMAN Silver Spring

The concept of a treetop singles bar for cicadas is amusing, but there is nothing amusing about the reality of the cicadas. Locusts were one of the 10 plagues which convinced the ancient Egyptians to release the Israelites from slavery. Although everyone assures me that the cicadas are not harmful and the locusts of ancient times were, I can well understand the Egyptians' position.

From mid-May on, my serene home has been transformed by the cicadas into the deepest, darkest jungle. The noise is deafening both inside and outside. Their existence has eliminated outdoor activities of any kind as well as sleeping past dawn. As for enjoying them, only those people with a perverse sense of fun would like the constant thumping of cicadas against the windows, the deliberate effort by the cicadas to mate in your house or car, the crushed insects on every inch of the sidewalk and roads and the sight of the birds nibbling on this rare delicacy. RUTH MORREL Bethesda

Okay, we surrender!

The scene: a softball field in Springfield. Along with the players, fans and able umpire were a few thousand cicadas. Those of us playing the game laughed at first, but as these pests stuck to our mitts, flew into our hair and infested our water jugs, our humor turned to anger. The umpire considered calling the game but realized there was no provision in the rule book for cicada invasions, so on we played.

An error was charged to the shortstop when she missed a ground ball while fleeing a singing visitor, and several strikeouts were registered because batters were busy keeping their eye on the cicadas, not the ball.

Our team eventually scored more runs, but the real winners were the cicadas, who got to view and participate in a favorite summertime diversion, softball. Let's hope they enjoyed it. JULIE YANCHULIS Alexandria

Thank goodness for The Post articles forewarning us about the cicadas. If I had seen the big, beady-eyed creatures without knowing anything about them, I'm sure I would have fled town in holy terror, babbling about Alfred Hitchcock-like infestations and Biblical plagues.

I could use one more article on the way this phenomenon is supposed to play itself out. Okay, so far the cicadas have dug their way up, climbed plants and trees, left body shells everywhere, and are now buzzing in the trees, dive-bombing innocent citizens and dying on sidewalks -- to everyone's disgust. What do we have to look forward to?

After they're gone, what do we do with the dead bodies and brown husks that the grade-school kids haven't scooped up for "show and tell"? As everyone can see, the things are clinging to shrubs, fences and car tires everywhere. They're not going to melt or evaporate like any of our other more pleasing natural phenomena, are they? Do we rake them up? Vacuum them? Weave them into rugs? String them into Christmas decorations? What? E. L. PERLMAN Washington