Goodbye cicadas and the cicada sex scandal recap

Cicada wings are scattered on the ground at the Manassas Battlefield Park. The wings are all that remain of the cicadas that swarmed the park last month. (Kevin Ambrose)

Cicada wings are scattered on the ground at the Manassas Battlefield Park. The wings are all that remain of the cicadas that swarmed the park last month. (Kevin Ambrose)

A month after the CBC cicada interview at the Manassas Battlefield Park, the bugs now appear to be gone.  With each passing week after the interview, the noise of the cicadas diminished.  Last week, for the first time in over a month, I heard no cicadas when I ran the trails at the park.

In addition, last week I noticed the ground at the Manassas Battlefield Park was littered with cicada wings.  I found no intact cicadas, however.  Perhaps the rest of the bugs were eaten by other critters.  The cicadas are a tasty treat to many types of animals and insects.  Some people even enjoy eating the chunky bug.

Looking back at the coverage of the Brood II cicadas in our region, only the southern one-third of the Washington area experienced cicadas.  The areas that had cicadas saw numerous bugs, but the Brood II cicadas were probably not as dense and certainly not as widespread as the Brood X cicadas which emerged in the northern two-thirds of the Washington area in 2004.

Cicadas cut slits into small tree branches to deposit their eggs. The branch often dies as a result. This cicada-cut branch was photographed in Manassas, Virginia.  (Kevin Ambrose)

Cicadas cut slits into small tree branches to deposit their eggs. The branch will often die as a result of the cuts. This cicada-cut branch was photographed near Manassas, Virginia. (Kevin Ambrose)

The damage to the trees caused by the Brood II cicadas are now evident.  Tree damage mostly occurred to the end of branches where the cicadas cut slits under the bark to lay their eggs.

The forested areas that I visited near Manassas had spotty dead branches as a result of the cicadas.  It was easy to see the small patches of brown scattered throughout the forest’s green canopy.  I even noticed that some of the dead branches were starting to fall to the ground.  The slits cut by the cicadas were evidently quite deep.

Most of the trees will easily recover from the cicada activity.  Very small trees or bushes may have more severe damage, however.


Here is the CBC news clip which clears up the “cicada sex scandal” created when mating cicadas were pixelated in a Canadian news story that was shot at the Manassas Battlefield Park. The pixelation was a joke, but some people took the censorship seriously.

After I took Paul Hunter and a CBC news crew out to the Manassas Battlefield Park to shoot cicadas for a Canadian news story last month, a rather amusing controversy emerged when the CBC pixelated two mating cicadas.  Some people even referred to it as a cicada sex scandal that involved extreme media censorship and stretching the limits of political correctness.

There was enough of a buzz over the initial story that the CBC ran a follow-up story the next day with an explanation (see video above).  Link: Initial CBC story.

Ultimately, the CBC’s pixelation of the mating cicadas was only a joke, but some people did not see the humor, or in other instances, piled on with their own jokes.  Below is a sample of the feedback to the CBC’s pixelated cicada sex.

Comments from our CWG readers:

Firedragon47: “The Canadians pixelated our cicadas. They couldn’t take the hot action of our local fauna. It must seem so very tropical and alien to them.”

eneppe68:  “No sex please, we’re Canadian.”

rwalker66:  “Who would have thought Canadians were more prudish than Americans.”

Comments from Canadian viewers to the CBC:

“What inane censorship. Political correctness runs amok.”

“Blurring out insects having sex. What kind of prude made that judgment call?”

Tweets posted by Canada.com:

“Umm, cbc.ca, I think we can handle the sight of two insects mating.”

“Really CBC? Really? You had to blur out, censor, insects mating?”

“OMG they’ve blurred out the bug sex. LMAO!”

Wow @cbcnews you REALLY felt it was required to blur out bug-parts?

From CBC reporter Paul Hunter to the readers of our CWG blog:

“FOR THE RECORD.. (and feel free to let your followers know).. the pixelization WAS INDEED MEANT AS A JOKE! (which I thought was obvious). It caused a real stir among our viewers…”

Looking forward, Brood X cicadas emerge again in our area in 2021. It remains to be seen if the next episode of Brood X will be as disruptive as the last. At least we don’t anticipate any more cicada sex scandals.  Brood II can keep that dubious honor.

For reference, here are my cicada posts from earlier this year:

BugCast: Warming temperatures with moderate-to-heavy cicadas

They’re here: Cicadas are emerging!

Cicada update: Latest coverage map and a cicada taste test

Sex and the cicada (plus updated coverage map)

Cicadas: 17 years in 7 minutes (WATCH); and the Charlottesville epicenter

International sensations: Foreign reporters catch the cicada bug

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