Depending on where you are in the neighborhood, you might have to take a long walk to see large numbers of Brood X cicadas. Or simply wait.
Not many have come out in Forest Hills, or at least, not in numbers large enough to sate the many birds and other creatures who see the cicadas as tasty treats. They’re more numerous across Connecticut Avenue in Wakefield. And walking down 32nd Street between Tennyson and Military Road in Chevy Chase, I saw a number of them in various stages:
The newly emerged teneral form, shortly after molting.
The new adult.
The mature adult.
And their shells, or exuviae, still clinging to trunks of trees and other plants.
The Post’s Capital Weather Gang says the cool weather over the past week kept the majority of the cicada nymphs cozy underground, and many of those that did emerge failed to molt properly or were too sluggish to fly away and dodge their predators. The hot days to come will coax them out. And then, we will see a whole bunch of them, like I did in Chevy Chase a few days ago.
Perhaps then we will hear their songs. Cicada males attract mates by vibrating membranes called tymbals.
The males can get really loud, with decibel levels comparable to a lawn mower. The females answer with clicks, snapping their wings together.
(USA Today put together a visual guide to the 2021 cicadas.)
The females lay their eggs on plants and trees. Then, after about five weeks, both the females and males die. The eggs hatch in six to ten weeks. The nymphs drop onto the soil, dig holes 6 to 18 inches underground, and suck sap from the roots of trees and other plants for 17 years. Then they will emerge again.
In some countries, such as China, cicadas are part of the menu. Neighbor Scott Seligman sent me the recipe below, though he himself never tried them when he had the opportunity in China.
When I read the recipe, I wondered how one would find 30 newly emerged cicadas. But after walking 32nd Street, I now know. Let me know if you try it.
30 newly-emerged cicadas
2 tbsp anise seeds
1 tsp salt
2 cups rice wine
additional water and rice wine
8 cloves mashed garlic
celery to garnish
turnip greens to garnish
1. Boil the cicadas and anise in salted rice wine for five minutes, then remove the cicadas.
2. Sauté the mashed garlic, adding enough of equal parts water and rice wine to make a thick paste.
3. Deep-fry the cicadas, then skewer them with bamboo picks. Arrange them on a plate with the turnip greens, celery, and garlic paste to look like cicadas climbing out of a mud pie into green foliage.
Yield: 4 appetizer-sized servings