Where are all these stupid cicadas, anyway?

This story on my Washington Post app this morning was the last straw that caused me to write this.

This story on my Washington Post app this morning was the last straw that caused me to write this.

Have you heard enough about the stupid Brood X cicadas? I have.

I mean, one story saying, “Hey, it’s the year when this one big bunch of cicadas will be out and buzzing” would have done me. A take-note-of kind of thing. Although it would not have hurt my feelings not to have even that one story, because when the cicadas come, I can hear them.

And that’s the thing. I keep seeing, and hearing (via NPR One) all this coverage. But I haven’t heard, much less seen, any big noisy bugs. I’m hearing a lot more from bullfrogs this year than I have in recent years. I hear them in the evenings near the two lakes in my neighborhood. It’s nice that we’re hearing from them, because I’d been kind of worried about them.

But I haven’t noticed any cicadas. Or if I have, they’ve blended into the background, so they’re not at a volume that would demand attention.

But let me try to read any of the national newspapers or magazines to which I subscribe, on any day, and I see as much coverage of these bugs as I do the insurrection in Washington on Jan. 6. Here are headlines from just one of those publications — The Washington Post — in the past week.

A cicada’s life

People love Brood X so much they’re taking cicada-cations

Want to try cicadas? Give the Brood X insects this spicy popcorn treatment

Freaked by cicada swarms? You could just stick a fork in ’em

A fungus could turn some cicadas into sex-crazed ‘salt shakers of death’

Wet hot cicada summer: An endless buffet for hungry animals and entomologists

My life in cicadas

Wet hot cicada summer: A timeline of Brood X

As we enter cicada peak bloom, here’s where they’ve already emerged

Zombie-like cicadas strive to mate despite losing the necessary parts

An open letter to the emerging cicadas in my backyard

All hail Queen C: Female cicadas are choosy and in charge

Partly cloudy with a chance of cicada pee

Who’s all in favor of eating cicadas? The scientists who study them.

Billions of cicadas blanket the Washington region. The Smithsonian is looking for a perfect few

Periodical cicadas are an evolutionary marvel. Enjoy the show.

So as you see, I’m not making this up. We are subjected to an actual plague of cicada stories. Throw this many cicada stories at Pharaoh, and he’d have let Moses’ people go in a skinny minute.

You’ll note that a bunch of them are about humans eating cicadas. Something that, again, if you must tell me, once would suffice. For awhile, the great fad was tongue-in-cheek features that pretended cicadas were intelligent beings who needed to be brought up on all the news they’d missed over the last 17 years. Which, again, was a mildly cute concept maybe once. Here’s one of those, from that same paper. Here’s another from elsewhere. And another. Oh, and yet another. I’ll stop now…

So again, I’m wondering, Where are these blasted bugs?

The answer, apparently, is not here. I found this in a newspaper in Ohio, which apparently is Cicada Central. Or at least it’s next door to Cicada Central, which is Indiana.

The story said that mainly, this is where you’d find them:

  • The southeast corner of Pennsylvania, almost all of Maryland, parts of Delaware and New Jersey, and a few areas in New York.
  • Ohio, almost the entire state of Indiana, a few areas in eastern Illinois, and northwest and eastern parts of Kentucky.
  • Western North Carolina, east Tennessee and a scattering around west Tennessee and the northern part of Georgia.

So not here. Our own cicadas won’t emerge until 2024. So now you may ignore this blog post, and all those other stories…

cicada map


7 thoughts on “Where are all these stupid cicadas, anyway?

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    So the moral of this story is that, no matter how well informed you are by what you do read, you should read your local newspaper. The only story linked above that said these cicadas aren’t coming HERE was this one from The State.

    Which somehow, even though I read the paper every day, I somehow missed, until I went looking for it just now. There I was, thinking, I should check with Rudy Mancke, and Sarah Ellis had already done it. Good for Sarah…

    So none of the other things I subscribe to — The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, and some other things I’m probably forgetting — had done anything for me regarding cicadas except get on my nerves more than any cicadas ever have…

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    I’m going to foreshadow a bit here…

    As you might be able to tell, with all the news I consume, I’m getting a little… impatient… about seeing the same stories done to death.

    I’ve been meaning to write a post about all the stories I’m sick of reading about. It’s really kind of become a problem. And the list keeps getting longer and longer. It’s easier to skim past stories in “print” (or rather the electronic equivalent, which is where I read all this print), but it really bugs me listening to my NPR app while walking. Sure, it lets me skip the stories that don’t interest me. But I end up just hitting that same button over and over and over, until I finally get tired of it and switch to Pandora.

    It’s just been the last couple of months. I’m close to actually giving up my intense lifelong habit of keeping up with the news of the day. Which would be weird.

    Anyway, the cicada nonstory is just a tiny, silly subset of the larger problem. I just haven’t written about it because the subject is huge, and I haven’t had time…

  3. Doug T

    I thought cicadas did their thing near the end of summer. Their noise always reminded me that summer was drawing to a close. OBTW, days will begin getting shorter in 3 1/2 weeks. How’s that for a bummer.

    Brad, please do not stop keeping up with the daily news. Your soon-to-follow declining scores on the Friday Slate news quiz may keep you depressed all weekend.

  4. Ken

    I was living in the DC area during one of the previous brood X emergences. It was a wonderful thing. So I can’t get enough of the story myself.
    But I’m partial to the big-eyed bugs anyway. They are a big part of the soundtrack of the South.

    1. Ken

      Thank goodness they don’t have to await moderation before emerging. They might never see the light of day.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Well, dang. I checked late last night and there was NOTHING. And I’ve been very tied up this morning with work and family business.

        Y’all have certainly been busy…

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      I think it’s a natural part of life, too.

      I have a granddaughter who’s afraid of them; I’m not sure why. So for her sake, I’m glad it’s going to be a couple of years.

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