Just when you thought it was safe to start leaving your house, think again.
A million and a half cicadas per acre (which for you math-minded folks is like a gazillion in total) are about to rise up from the ground like a horde of horror from some weird sci-fi movie. The biggest insect emergence on the planet is on its way. But only if you live in the Eastern States, with Southwest Virginia, North Carolina, and West Virginia being the hardest hit. Sorry. As for the rest of you? You can breathe easy. You’re safe. For now.
There are two types of cicadas – annual and periodical. Cicadas are found all over the world. But in the United States they are only found in the eastern half of the country (cue the mass exodus to the west). The annual cicadas emerge every year in late June or August, whereas the periodical cicadas typically come out in May, every 13 or 17 years. Different regions have their swarms appear in different years.
Apparently, this particular brood of periodical cicadas, known as Brood IX, is of the 17-year variety, and ding, ding, ding, you guessed it…2020 wins! Because of course it does. The insects have a once-in-a-17-year mating season so in addition to not having seen the light of day for 17 YEARS they are horny as hell.
According to an article in the Virginia Tech Daily, periodical cicadas spend most of their lives living beneath the soil, feeding on tree roots, until the day they all reach maturity and as a brood, rise up and start knocking boots. Or hairy insect legs. Whatever. The males use incessant chirping – some as noisy as a jet engine – to profess their love and entice the females to mate.
And while it seems like this could very well be another notch on the end-of-times doomsayers’ belts, good news! This actually isn’t the eighth plague of Egypt. Cicadas are NOT locusts. They do not destroy crops and only feed on the sap of trees and shrubs. They are generally harmless to humans, do not sting, and rarely bite. The biggest issue with a cicada infestation (other than untold billions of corpses littering the ground after they have sex and die), is the noise.
Eric Day, an entomologist with the Virginia Tech’s Department of Entomology says:
“Communities and farms with large numbers of cicadas emerging at once may have a substantial noise issue. Hopefully, any annoyance at the disturbance is tempered by just how infrequent — and amazing — this event is.”
Yeah, amazing. Because what we really want right now is more bugs.
However, it’s not all bad. You could always try eating them. According to a quick Google search, there are over 326,000 webpages, images, videos, and more dedicated to “cicada recipes.” Yum. For you. Not me.
Not only are they high protein and low-fat they are also gluten and dairy-free, so there’s that. They can be roasted, fried, covered in chocolate, blanched, boiled, or candied. The options are seemingly endless.
And really, according to Jenna Jadin and the University of Maryland Cicadamaniacs, who co-authored the recipe book, CICADA-LICIOUS: Cooking and Enjoying Periodical Cicadas (yes, there’s a cookbook, I wish I was kidding) we’re all bug consumers. Whether we realize it or not.
“…most Americans don’t realize that they are probably already eating a pound or two of insects each year. Insects are a part of all processed food from wheat meal for bread to tomato ketchup.”
The recipe book contains everything from Shanghai Cicadas, El Chirper Tacos, Cicada Dumplings, to Cicada-Rhubarb Pie, and Chocolate-Chip Trillers.
Of course, even with the promise of free food, not everyone is happy about the swarm of insects about to come crawling up from the pits of hell. And I can’t say as I blame them.
It’s deafening. My ears survived the infestation in ‘86. I was walking my dog today and had flashbacks. Now I know. The apocalypse just keeps apocalypsing.
— whet? (@elnouveaunegro) May 24, 2020
And cue the mass panic buying of cans of RAID. But because this is 2020, there’s no stopping the bugs. So they’ll come, have wild sex, and cover every last inch of land across 3 states for weeks. But eventually, they will die. And fingers crossed, this will be the LAST bug infestation we will have to endure. Because God knows, I think we’ve all had just about enough already.