The once-in-17-year cicadas are here!

Jun 3, 2021

Yes, those amazing Periodical Brood X Cicadas that we’ve all been waiting for have arrived in swarms. The insects, native to the US’s eastern states, spend 17 years of their life underground. They suck sap from the roots of trees before finally crawling up through holes to spend the last six weeks of their life flying around on a mission to mate.

Photo courtesy of Margie Tidwell

“When they first climb out of the ground, they are ugly brown bugs without wings,” our 8-year-old Newsy Pooloozi Maryland correspondent, Alina Tidwell, told us in Episode 48 of the Newsy Pooloozi podcast. “Then they climb up on something quite tall, like grass or trees. And then they start breaking out of their skins. They look really white, at first, and then they turn black with red eyes and a mix of black, yellow and clear gray wings.”

They don’t only make a racket, they make a mess. And they’re pretty stinky too as Alina’s brother, 10-year-old Andy Tidwell, said.

“The funny thing is, they don’t have much of a smell. But when they shed their skins and die, they really start to stink up the place. Sometimes it smells like a dead animal in our yard.”

As if that weren’t bad enough, it gets worse.

Photo courtesy of Margie Tidwell

“But the pee droplets are unbearable. When you walk under a tree it can feel like mist falling, it’s like rain, that’s how bad it is. There are thousands of cicadas in just my little yard,” Andy said. “My dog thinks they are the tastiest treats. We can’t keep her happy inside the house, she only wants to be outside gobbling up cicadas.”

Photo courtesy of Margie Tidwell

Neither child agreed with their dog’s tastes – despite a nearby café selling chocolate covered cicadas. Alina like them too much to eat them. She just wanted to cuddle them. Yep.

“At first, I wasn’t so sure about the cicadas, but now I really like them,” Alina said. “I like to hold them and snuggle them. Sometimes they tickle me, when I hold them. I think cicadas are really cool!”

Well, we’re glad, Alina, has bonded with these bugs. We definitely find them fascinating, though might not like them crawling on us!

Photo courtesy of Margie Tidwell

(As a final note, not only are all these photos courtesy of the Tidwell family, but big thanks to Margie Tidwell for acting as our on-site-producer, recording the fabulous sounds heard in on this story in Episode 48, including their dog, Ginger, chomping on the cicadas. Thanks again, Margie!)