What I Learned About Cicadas

Brood 2 is Coming!

CicadaPeople are starting to talk about the cicadas coming again to D.C., but what do we really know about about this impending swarmageddon? They say that the bugs come every 17 years, but many of us remember cicadas descending on D.C. more recently than that. So what is the answer?

Historic newspapers!!!

DCPL's historic newspapers online
contains archived copies of the Washington Post. Doing a subject search of cicadas on issues from 17, 34, and 51 years ago reveals this about the insects:
Woman wrapping tree in plastic wrap.

  • From June 6, 1996: It is Brood 2 that is coming this year, and this is the generation that comes every 17 years.
  • From June 7, 1979: Broods 2, 10, and 14 are the broods that affect this part of the country. Brood 2 is the largest.
  • From May 27, 1962: People used to wrap their trees is plastic wrap to protect them from cicadas (see Post photo at right).

P.S. For even more cicada fun, check out Radiolab's cicada tracker project to join the swarm of people tracking the cloud of bugs.