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

Maybe it's the sound that's driving us buggy. Soon it may be the smell of mortality. But people are behaving very strangely during the Cicada Daze of 2004.

A Northern Virginia landscaper who has run out of small-mesh cicada netting is reportedly advising customers to cover their trees with tulle, the material used for wedding veils. Some people are making hats and umbrellas with netting to keep the critters out. One suburban Maryland woman was spotted buying a Shop-Vac to suck cicadas out of her yard. Another was buying a screened-in backyard gazebo at Hardware City in Kensington so that her dog could do his business in a cicada-free zone.

Radio stations are staging contests. WMZQ advertised ice cream with cicada sprinkles at a Cicada Cook-Off in Fairfax last Saturday.

In Columbia, Donna Essl and some friends are burying a cicada time capsule with pictures of Brood X and a few news items about the phenomenon. "We asked kids to fill out bio sheets, predicting what they'll be doing in 17 years," she says.

And the Occoquan Bible Church in Woodbridge is turning its Memorial Day weekend picnic into a Cicada Fest to raise money for the building fund. So-called "cicada munchers" have signed up to ingest insects. Even the pastor has agreed to gulp down a live cicada if he can get sponsors to pledge at least $1,000.