Cicada update: Latest coverage map and a cicada taste test

May 20, 2013

This map shows cicada reports in the Washington, D.C. area as of May 19, 2013. Let us know if you have cicada sightings outside of the shaded region and we will update the map as the cicada season progresses. (Kevin Ambrose/Kathryn Prociv)

If you have not yet seen cicadas where you live, there is a good chance that Brood II has missed your area.  Don’t worry, Brood X will probably get you in 2021.

So far, Brood II sightings of the 17-year periodical cicada have been mostly south of Washington, with a few scattered reports to the north.  Let us know if you have cicada sightings outside of the region that we show shaded on the map above.  We’ll keep the map updated as our cicada season progresses.


A cicada emerges from its nymph skin and spreads its wings for the first time. This photo was taken Saturday, May 18, near Manassas, Virginia. (Kevin Ambrose)

I returned to the location of my last cicada article near Manassas, Virginia and I noticed that there were many more cicadas and nymph shells on the trees compared to last week.

Back home, however, near Oakton, Virginia, we do not have cicadas.  Bull Run Regional Park, located between Oakton and Manassas, does have cicadas.  Thus, somewhere south of Centreville and Fairfax is the cicada line.  Will the cicada line push north?  I doubt it.

Farther north and west, there are pockets of cicada sightings near Bethesda, Maryland and in western Loudoun County, southwest of Leesburg.  Let us know if you live in those regions and have seen cicadas.  Those are the regions that I consider “low confidence” on my map.


A pair of cicadas rest on a leaf during steady rain, May 18, 2013.  This photo was taken near Manassas, Virginia. (Kevin Ambrose)

To the southeast, cicadas have been reported in large numbers in southern Maryland, particularly St. Mary’s and Calvert Counties.  But I have not seen reports from Charles and Prince George’s Counties?  If you live in those counties, do you have cicadas?

I’ll refine the map as the season continues.


A cicada close-up with rain drops, May 18, 2013 in Prince William County. (Kevin Ambrose)

There are conflicting reports that cicadas taste like shrimp and asparagus.  Which is it, shrimp or asparagus?  I like both. I performed a simple taste test to solve the mystery.  The results are discussed below.  (Kevin Ambrose)

I find it interesting that many of the cicada-related news stories contain references to eating cicadas, cicada recipes, and cooking with cicadas.  Our readers have also made food-related comments to some of our previous cicada posts.  One reader (malusk03) even posted the following comment: “Don’t think of them as pests, but as flying shrimp, self-delivered and free of charge.”

In the various articles, cicadas are most often described to taste like shrimp and asparagus.  Occasionally, peanut butter is mentioned.  I’ve seen “buttery” and “nutty” also used to describe their flavor.

One would think that this is the most tasty bug ever created.  So many different flavors!  It’s the Baskin-Robbins of bugs.

I was both skeptical and intrigued.  I decided to perform my own taste test, to solve the mystery of how a cicada really tastes.

I caught several cicadas in Manassas on Saturday and I prepared them with shrimp, asparagus, and pasta.  I took the photo above and then I did the daring taste test.

The result of my taste test is that — drum roll please — the cicada tastes like mushy asparagus.  Yes, just a small tidbit of mushy, squishy asparagus.  It wasn’t bad, but I don’t want to try it again.

On a more positive note, I had plenty of jumbo shrimp and firm asparagus prepared so the meal was not a failure.  Also, the delicious taste of shrimp dipped in cocktail sauce quickly made me forget that I had just eaten bugs.

Now if only shrimp could fly…

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Jason Samenow · May 20, 2013