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On cicada time

On cicada time

Update: 2021-05-283
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Love them or loathe them, the cicadas of Brood X are here. One Washington Post editor recalls his first taste of the bug. A Smithsonian entomologist demystifies the science of Brood X. And a biologist takes us on a journey through cicadas’ deep past.

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When the cicadas of Brood X last emerged, the world was a different place. George W. Bush was president. “Shrek 2” topped the box office. And Cameron Barr, lately the interim leader of The Washington Post, was a general-assignment reporter tasked with sampling frozen cicadas sauteed in butter and parsley.

Smithsonian entomologist Floyd Shockley has long loved periodical cicadas. He takes us on a tour behind the scenes at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, which houses cabinets full of preserved insects. There we learn about cicadas’ elegant bodies — and the mysterious way they count the passage of the years.

And finally, biologist Gene Kritsky takes us back many, many emergences to the time when cicadas serenaded the dinosaurs.

Entomologists want your help documenting Brood X for their Cicada Safari project. If you would like to contribute photos or videos of cicadas, download the Cicada Safari app or go to cicadasafari.org.
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On cicada time

On cicada time

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