Thursday, March 25, 2021

Get Out! And Get Ready for Once-Every-17-Years Invasion of the Cicadas

Cicadas - Photo by USDA
by Peggy Robin

 If you’ve never lived through The Great Cicada Awakening before…..that means you are either under 17 years old, or you were living outside the Great Mid-Atlantic Cicada Invasion Zone (see map at and scroll down to the 2021 map) the last time the swarms emerged.

For a good description of what we’re in for, listen to Sir David Attenborough narrate (in his usual, calm, plummy Queen’s English) the ferocious burst of noise and activity that will soon be upon us:

Whether you’ve lived through it before or not, it’s good to be prepared for what’s coming. Think of ways to deal with the noise. Want to hear it now? Listen to this: You will also want to consider how you are going to avoid the crunch of insect shells beneath your feet. If you’re at all squeamish, you might consider learning and using calming relaxation and breathing techniques. Or maybe just get away to Hawaii for the duration. (Get your negative covid test and book a vacation at a resort that will act as a “bubble”.)

Don’t want to cut and run? Then get ready to protect your garden from the invaders….as much as you can. Here’s a free online course that can help:

Preparing Your Garden for the Seventeen-Year Cicadas

Price: Free · Duration: 1 hr 30 min
Public  · Anyone on or off Facebook  

Event by Virginia Cooperative Extension - Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia and VCE Arlington 

Virginia Cooperative Extension - Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia


The Get Out!/Stay In! column is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Thursdays.   


  1. Thanks Peggy for the cicada updates. I can’t wait.

    My advice is to just embrace the swarm. They seem to launch blindly so if one hits your face and bounces off—it was not on purpose.Just another use for those face masks and eye shields as cicada blockers.

    But in the back of my mind, I do sincerely hope the cicadas survived those 17 years underground without being paved over on top, while exposed to contemporary human chemicals, herbicides, vibrations, and cell phone radiation. (Just kidding about that cell phone radiation... I think).

    Fly high!

    1. I agree with Rick - embrace the cicadas!

      This is such an amazing display of nature - and nature's survival despite our best attempts at its destruction.

      Think about what you want to teach your kids. Mine were young - and a bit squeamish at first. But when I showed no fear or disgust, and took them out on "safaris" to find them, and then they witnessed first hand the awe of these little creatures hatching out of their shells, they were hooked. That was three weeks of pure joy and delight.

      Pictures from the 2004 brood can be seen here -