They’re HEE-ere…The Cicadas Have Arrived. UPDATED!


UPDATE: It appears there’s a lot of discussion about the nutritional benefits and meaty flavor of cicadas. Indeed, the delicacy provides as much protein pound per pound as lean beef. 

For the gastronomically adventurous, “Cicada-licious: Cooking and Enjoying Periodical Cicadas,” helpfully divided into chapters on appetizers, main dishes, and desserts, should provide you with an abundance of culinary inspiration. If you’re brave enough to cook up some chocolate covered cicadas, cicada dumplings, pizza or stir fry, please let us know about your results in comments. Bon Appetit!

The 17-year wait is finally over…a reader just sent us this photo of a brand new batch of juicy Magicicada cicadas from her neighbor’s yard on the sunny side of Lorraine Avenue in Montclair.

Nancy Stone says the insects suddenly appeared an hour ago, are brownish, and about 3/4 of an inch long. So far they’re silent, and not yet appearing on the shady side of the street.

“They’re really way grosser than I thought they’d be,” says Stone. “They’re just covering all over her plants. I didn’t think they’d be this bad. I won’t be able to sit outside and enjoy my flowers until they’re gone.”

Have you seen any yet? Are you thrilled and filled with awe? Or creeped out and planning your escape to someplace where there’s no Brood II?

Please post your reactions in comments–and prepare for the onslaught!

cicada ready for its close up

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  1. Are these the ones that leave those little empty exoskeletons on trees ? Those truly creep me out more then the actual bugs.

  2. My Golden Retriever has been snapping them up whenever they have the misfortune of being near him. Getting some good protein snacks today.

  3. On my daily walk I didn’t see any north of the Iris Gardens and hundreds south of the gardens with increasing numbers near Bradford Ave. They are freaky looking, especially seeing them hatch out of their exoskeletons.

  4. They actually only emerge under the safety of night, so any that you’re seeking now in their adult stage (black with wings), crawled out of the ground last night – instinctually heading for higher ground (like a tree or shrub) where they shed out of their nymph form and become adults.

    They’ve been living underground for 17 years – digging around in dirt and living off of tree roots. They’ve been waiting for the ground temperature to hit 64 degree to emerge – become adults – mate for a few weeks, then die and disappear for another 17 years.

    Expect tens of thousands of them – especially where you have old trees. It’s the largest emergence of insects anywhere in the world, and it only happens in the eastern United States. Pretty cool.

    They’re harmless though, and don’t carry any diseases or bite.

    Besides, they’ve been living in dirt for 17 years, not seeing any daylight or another cicada. Finally, they now all get to come out, meet each other, and for just a few weeks seriously get it on with some freaky bug sex before they all die. Let’s try and be happy for them.

  5. Oh God, I’m realizing what I thought were little anthills are where cicadas have been burrowing out of the ground. If anyone needs me, I’ll be locked in the bathroom w the window taped shut for the next two months.

  6. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I love cicadas. They fascinate me, and especially the 17 year ones. I even referenced them in a poem. LOL. Maybe it’s my Southern blood.

    If you think these are bad, you should try strolling on any given summer night in central Texas during the cricket invasions. They leap at you in groups of ten to three hundred or so near every street light.

  7. Scientists recently translated the song of the periodical cicada and results show it’s “Hey baby, how you doin’?” repeated over and over again.

  8. I was down in Baltimore nine years ago when the “Great Eastern Brood” of 17-year cicadas made their emergence. At night, the forest behind the hotel sounded like a freight train running at full throttle.

    As others have noted, they are harmless despite their creepy appearance, but be forewarned: they are hapless fliers (I guess anybody would after being stuck underground for 17 years). They have very poor directional control, and bump into everything (and everybody). Keep your car windows closed.

  9. Also, looks like I’m not riding my bike or jogging outside for the next several weeks.

    Swimming inside it is!

  10. Years ago a friend played a practical joke (involving a cicada) on the boss. There was a wall-mounted phone in the business, so my friend found molted shell of a cicada and double-stick-taped the shell to the earpiece of the phone. And now the fun…Boss walks into the area. My friend called the company phone number. Boss, irate that he has to answer the phone, picks it up and jams the cicada corpse into his ear. Much laughter about.

  11. When I was in Greece years ago, we had to take a bus that had no a/c for a 9 hour drive in the mountains to visit family in a small village. The windows were open so we wouldn’t melt and all of a sudden a big cicada flew in right on my head cushion. I freaked out and started screaming. All the Greeks shook there heads at the crazy American.

  12. Be careful if you are brave enough to eat cicadas. The are in the same family as other arthropods (such as shrimp, lobster, etc.) and can trigger an reaction if you are allergic to such seafood.

  13. As long as there is Mac & Cheese in the pantry and turkey burgers in the freezer I’ll eschew these little beasties.

    Be careful around cicadas. They have been known to gang up on petite people and carry them up into the canopy to dine at their leisure. No, wait, I thinking about that movie ‘Predator’ that had lots of cicada type noises in it.

  14. When I was about 8, we had an invasion so immense that Drew & I believe Princeton had to move their graduation ceremonies indoors, because of the din. And I found a new means of equality with my five-year-older twin sisters, who routinely tortured or ignored me: I would cover my face with a bunch of big fat non-biting-tameable cicadas, and chase them. It gave me a great sense of power, and I have loved cicadas ever since.

  15. I love cicadas, hope to get up to UPPA Montclair and check them out. Tonight I dined on snails instead.
    PAZ in RSW

  16. Kit, I don’t know how old you are, but that summer may have been the one Bob Dylan sang about when he accepted an honorary degree from Princeton in the midst of a swarm. The tune is called Day of the Locusts, on the New Morning album.

  17. Goodness, Georgette, just riding in a bus (or a rental car, for that matter) on the Greek mountain roads scared the hell out of me. We were on one of the islands (Naxos) and following one of those huge Mercedes motor coaches on its daily route through the switchbacks and no-guard rail hairpin curves. In some places, the bus couldn’t make the corner without stopping, backing, and continuing, so you learned not to follow so closely. They also have no restrooms, so every now and then the bus would stop and someone would get off to do his business over the cliff. With all that fear factor going on, the cicadas could have been five pounds each and singing Wagner, and I wouldn’t have noticed them.

  18. Am I the only one who had a mini-invasion last year? I’m curious whether my backyard is so toxic that it has thrown off the evolutionary clock of the cicadas or whether we have the 17-year variety + some off-cycle cousins. If anyone happens to know it will save me hours of research!

    In the meanwhile, thanks for all the cica-delic recipes! Can’t wait to work my way through them.

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