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Who Invited the Cicadas?

0413-articleYou didn’t invite them, but they might be coming to your wedding anyway.

No,  we’re not talking about your mother’s cousins twice-removed. We’re talking about cicadas – those ugly, buzzing bugs that make an appearance around here every few years.

This year, some areas in Southern Maryland (map) will get a visit from the 17-year Brood II cidadas, also called Magicicadas. They’ve been dormant underground since 1996 and will emerge this spring.

When are they coming?
Experts say the cicadas emerge when the temperature of the ground 8 inches below the surface reaches 64 degrees. They’ll emerge earlier in southern states and later in northern states, but the estimate is between early May and late June.

What are they?
Cicadas are a locust-type bug. They have red eyes, orange wings, and black bodies. They won’t bite or sting, but they do buzz and could land on you (or your guests). They love trees.

Will they be at my wedding?
Depends where you are. If you’re planning an outdoor wedding, ask whether the cicadas appeared there 17 years ago. Areas that are heavily wooded or have a lot of trees are more attractive to cicadas than areas with few trees. If no one at your location knows whether cicadas have appeared in the past, look through old newspapers at the library or search online.

How to cope
You might not be able to escape the cicadas, but there are lots of ways to cope with them:

Move indoors. If it’s an option, move all or part of your day indoors. If you really want an outdoor wedding or can’t move indoors, consider renting big tents for the ceremony and reception.

Cover food. Bring food out at the last minute and keep it covered to prevent the bugs from landing on it.

Educate your guests. Let your guests know the cicadas are coming. Tell them they don’t bite, but that they may land on people and tables. It’s just going to be part of your day.

Clean up, clean up. The cicadas leave their skins behind, so they may be littered all over your outdoor location. They’re easy to clean up with a shop vac.

Make it a game. Face it: Kids love bugs. Provide containers for them to catch the bugs. They will love it. Really.

Turn it up. A band or DJ will drown out the buzz of the cicadas. If you’ve hired ceremony music, consider amplifying them as well so that they can be heard over the sounds of the bug.

Relax. And try to smile. Your wedding day is still going to be perfect, even with a few extra guests. (And consider the funny pictures you might get …)

Read more about cicadas

-Cori Meloney