By Marcel Adams
UJW Staff Writer
OXON HILL, Md.- Joy Barnes first encountered cicadas in 2004 when one smacked her in in the head and sent her running and screaming home.
“I ran all the way home,” said Barnes, 16, of Suitland. “I freaked out, what was I to do?”
Now, nearly 10-years later, the insects have returned to the Washington, D.C. region.
Cicadas are large insects that live underground, mostly near trees. They emerge from underground in cycles every 13 to 17 years in large swarms.
The insects have long been viewed as a nuisance to their region. They’re loud, clumsy, and don’t forget ugly.
“I will be carrying a flyswatter at all times and hitting every bug I see,” said Barnes
Brood X was the last cicadas to swarm the area which was back in 2004. This year’s cicadas known as Brood II are expected to be smaller in numbers than that of Brood X, but they are still expected to be out in the masses. They have been underground ever since 1996.
Kiara Crawford, 17 of Upper Marlboro, is prepared to battle the attack of the cicada by simply not going outside. She plans on not wearing shorts even in the summer. She remembers her first encounter with cicadas back in Houston in the fourth grade.
“A cicada flew on my skin and I freaked out,” said Crawford. “Then my third grade teacher saw me and picked up the cicada and ate it.”
When the temperature of the region’s soil reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit eight inches below the surface the cicadas will emerge according to Cicadamania.com. The site also says that cicadas located in sunny areas will emerge before those in shady areas.
There are common misconceptions about cicadas according to Dan Mozgai, a blogger for Cicadamania.com.
“A lot of people think they’re locusts, but they’re not. A locust is a grasshopper.” said Mozgai in an email.
Mozgai also said that cicadas drink fluids from trees for nutrients, and that there is also another kind of cicada called annual cicadas that emerge annually.
Cicadas are also edible, according to The National Geographic.
“They’re high in protein, low in fat, no carbs,” said biologist and cicada expert Gene Kritsky in the article. “They’re quite nutritious, a good set of vitamins.”
Despite misconceptions, cicadas are mostly harmless. They feed off of trees and do not bite.
“Periodical cicadas are most damaging to small young trees that have the most desirable branch size for egg laying.” states the publication. “Large, established trees can often have large amounts of flagging but rarely suffer severe damage.”
As cicadas come back, they will be around for about four to eight weeks and then disappear again until 2030.