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Where are the cicadas? For all the talk about cicada cocktails and cicada po’ boys, this year’s heralded cicadas emergence in D.C.—-“a massive, boisterous grand entrance,” as predicted by NPR—-has been a flop. Except for portions of Maryland and Northern Virginia, there are no cicadas to be found. Were we lied to about the sex-crazed bugs?
“Everybody gets excited with this stuff, and Benghazi and the IRS story hadn’t broken,” says cicada expert Gene Kritsky, explaining the media coverage of a bug that didn’t exactly blanket Washington.
Media hype led people to believe that the entire D.C. area would be covered with the bugs, according to Kritsky, a professor at Ohio’s College of Mount St. Joseph. “In reality, when the cicadas emerge, they’re much more spotty,” Kritsky says.
Since cicadas move only a meter or so in their 17 years underground, it should be easy to predict where they’ll be—-and Washington isn’t one of those places. A search through Kritsky’s archives produces only a few minor appearances in D.C. proper for Brood II, most from around the beginning of the 20th century.
Still, some media reports predicted a resurgence in Washington this year, according to University of Connecticut cicada researcher John Cooley, in part thanks to outdated maps. “There has been an awful lot of uninformed hype associated with Brood II this year,” Cooley writes in an email.
So what’s someone looking for sex-crazed bugs to do? Wait for 2021, according to Kritsky—-when the cicadas of Brood X, who screeched their way through D.C. in 2004, return.
Correction: Due to a reporting error, this post initially showed a Shutterstock photograph of a different kind of cicada.
Photo by photos_martha via Flickr/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0