Beyond Wellesley: Brood X cicadas

You can have your cherry blossoms. For our brief Washington, D.C. and northern Virginia visit, it was all about the Brood X cicadas (oh, and family visits).

We tend to see our family down that way at least a few times a year. But these cicadas famously appear only every 17 years, so their presence isn’t to be missed.


Of course it’s easy to say this as a visitor.

Those who live in the area are surrounded by the cicada buzzing and whirring and chirping pretty much all day long, especially when the weather is hot, as the males attempt to win over females. The cicadas, who sounds regularly hit 80-plus decibels, will likely be sticking around until at least July.

Hey, it’s nature


We found two types of people when it came to the cicadas:

  • Those who loved them, wanted to know as much about them as possible, and were eager to drop that knowledge on you.
  • Those who weren’t nearly as impressed by the insects but who were amused by the first group of people.

Count me among the former. While the noise is incessant, I also found it entertaining, fascinating, and soothing, unlike say, ubiquitous lawn equipment cacophony.

You might come across the random cicada in Wellesley, but Brood X isn’t hitting the area.

We were treated to our initial symphony upon getting out of our rental car at our first stop after leaving the airport. The swaying tree branches and leaves seemed as though they were alive, though the tree trunks were covered with the empty shells of nymphs that have morphed into adults. The ground was littered with the bodies of dead adults, either stripped bellies up, or dead red-orange eyes staring up at you.

Empty husks from cicada nymphs


We saw plenty of live ones up close. Some were ambling along on sidewalks, picnic tables, you name it. Others fluttered around, some smashing into our windshields, others heading up to the trees or into bushes. We learned our in-laws’ dog loved munching them down at the start, though now had had her fill.

I snagged a dead one to stick into my insect collection, though unfortunately Mrs. Swellesley didn’t realize it was in a bag she then filled with her clothes. No doubt, this will be THE fashion hit of the summer in town if that cicada carcass nestles itself into just the right item of clothing.