The return of the 17-year cicadas has Washington buzzing.

Cicadamania in academia:

* Late last week, an overenthusiastic student at Key Elementary School in Arlington shared her collection of 100 exoskeletons with her teacher, Principal Marjorie L. Myers reported.

* When physics professor Michael Rapport, on his way to give an exam at Anne Arundel Community College, stopped for coffee at a Rockville Pike bagel shop, a stowaway cicada crept out of his shirt pocket.

* And while sitting on the bus en route to Thomas Pyle Middle School in Bethesda on Thursday morning, eighth-grader Alexandra Mills watched a girl carrying three cicadas in a jar climb aboard. A brash sixth-grade boy said he would eat one on a dare.

The whole busload, "more than 30 kids," took sides, Alexandra reports, with the girls mostly screaming "Ewwww!" and the boys mostly chanting encouraging words such as "Eat it!" and "Do it!"

The boy did it. And he didn't stop at one cicada, he ate all three. There was so much pandemonium, the driver had to pull over and calm down everyone.

Throughout the day, Alexandra says, the halls were full of rumors and reports of cicada eatings: "As I was walking from portable to portable, I heard one boy saying to another, 'I dare you to eat it.' "

Principal Alan Goodwin was hearing similar reports from teachers. "One saw students throwing up outside near the portables," the principal says. Talk about putting the sick in cicada. Another teacher caught a kid smuggling a cicada into school in an Altoids tin.

By dismissal time, the school was in such a feeding frenzy, Goodwin decided it was necessary to address the student body over the PA system. Students, he said, were not to eat raw cicadas on school grounds or bring them into classrooms.

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