They’re baaaaack! The 17-year cicadas (aka, magicicada septendecim, aka, Brood II) were on hand (and on footpaths, trees, the restrooms, the sinks, our tent, the car, and everywhere else!) to welcome us to Prince William Forest Park campground, just south of Washington, D.C., on Saturday, June 1. Driving home to New York after vacationing in South Carolina, this is a favorite “halfway point” of ours. Just pitch the tent and go to sleep. Or not. Listen…this is the sound of one very, very long night:
Where do they come from? Why now? Why us?! These are questions that plague (ahem) you as you hunker down in your sleeping bag, wondering if you’ll get eaten alive if you dare feel around outside the tent for your flip-flops.
Fortunately, no. They don’t bite or sting. Their worst—aside from keeping you up all night—is suddenly buzzing over and landing on your shoulders and legs and head (in their creepy red-eyed view, every vertical thing is a tree). Not a happy thing at 5 a.m. as you shuffle off to the cement-block ladies’ room to brush your teeth.
But from the safety of the good ol’ Subaru, Brood II cicadas are awfully interesting! This from wync.org:
As many as one million to five million cicadas can be found per acre, according to research scientist John Cooley from the University of Connecticut, Storrs. He also runs the website Magicada. When the soil temperature reaches 64 degrees, they start to make their way out of the ground and into our world.
Cicadas live in the ground, near trees. They feed off the roots of trees. And they only come out for a few weeks, during which time they will molt and then mate. The females will lay eggs that hatch and the nymphs will then burrow underground to start a new 17-year-cycle.
That is, unless “foodies” like Gene Kritsky have their way. A cicada expert, he tells the Daily News:
The key to harvesting the bugs for eating is when they are newly hatched, called tenerals, sometime in the early morning. They should be white and still soft, with the females and their distinctive pointy abdomens the most appetizing and nutritious because of their protein-filled eggs.
Ummmm, WHAT?! You mean, we could’ve done better than Egg McMuffins?! Apparently so. In 2007, when the 17-year cicadas struck the Chicago area, cook Marilyn Pocius held a “cicada potluck” (tagline, “I ate a cicada and I don’t have to eat another one for 17 years”). The resulting entries were an incredible array of creativity — cicada sushi, JELLO, pizza and even chocolate chip cookies.
“I will say that they tasted pretty good—mild and nutty like peanut butter,” Pocius told the Daily News by email. “And of course they were delicious when battered and deep fried. But then what isn’t?”
And get this: they’re kosher! Bon appetit.