City Desk

Hey, Where Are the Cicadas?

Where Are All the Cicadas?

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in Washington this year, according to University of Connecticut cicada researcher John Cooley, in part thanks to outdated maps.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

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  • Andrew

    Total ripoff!!!

  • Matt

    Construction also disrupts them since it destroys the larvae in the ground and the roots they feed on for those 17 years.

    Washington has had its fair share of that in the last 17 years.

  • Jezabel

    My area of South FFX experienced a full blown case of the bugs in reports have not been good about explaining that certain broods come out in certain years.

  • Scott B

    Your photo is not a periodical (13- or 17-year) cicada. They are black with red eyes. The media doesn't seem to care about getting the facts straight, only about creating fear around insects. Get it right.

  • Kathleen

    Truth is the cicadas will be emerging around June 6th. Seriously, folks: THEY are COMING! No whines--you'll get plenty. This brood extends up to past Frederick, Maryland, and you'll be glad when they are gone. Give it a week...

  • Pingback: Cicada's Invade the Capitol building in DC! *Livestream*

  • Mark James

    For anyone interested, they are out in the woods behind South Riding, VA (so are tics, so be careful). Roll down your windows and take a ride on Braddock Road near Cox Farms for the full effect. Loud as heck. Sounded like more than one species were making all that racket.