Cicada Fiestas: Top Places to Bug Out

Heather Morgan Shott
National Geographic Traveler
Updated June 1, 2004

Some people just couldn't wait to meet the cicadas of Brood X—even if it meant traveling hundreds of miles.

Take Lynn Badger of Jacksonville, Florida. The 54-year-old dog-park owner drove to Maryland in late May to witness—and hear—the mass emergence of the chirping red-eyed bugs. "I love dramatic displays of nature," she says.

Badger wasn't alone. Many Brood X seekers traveled for hikes, concerts, art exhibits, and contests, all to honor the billions of shrimp-size bugs that swarmed the U.S. from the eastern seaboard west through Indiana and south to Tennessee this spring.

Brood X (Brood Ten) is the largest of 15 classes of periodical cicadas. The bugs—which were last seen in 1987—spend most of their lives underground and only emerge once every 17 years, reproduce, and then die. The Class of 2004 started appearing in early May and will vanish by the end of this month.

Here's where to go for the best cicada celebrations:

Ohio

Five billion cicadas were expected to swarm Cincinnati alone. In celebration, the city's downtown Havana Martini Club hosted a cicada-inspired drink-making contest on May 12. With special liquors and garnishes (think cherries to represent cicada eyes), local bartenders raced to mix up the most creative cocktail.

To stay among the cicadas, take a "Cicada Great Escape" to Cincinnati. Starting last month, the packages offered an overnight at one of 25 hotels, discounts to local attractions, dessert at La Normandie Tavern and Chop House, an appetizer at the Bamboo Club, and a copy of the "Seventeen Year Itch" tribute CD. Package prices start at $60. (With instrumentals that sound like Brood X, the musical tribute features four local bands ranging in style from jazz to rock and will be used to promote Cincinnati's eclectic music scene.)

"Cicada Escape Zones," set up throughout the city, offer a break from the buzzing bugs. Through the end of this month, the Museum of Natural History & Science's "Nature's Trading Post" exhibit is featuring large-scale models of cicadas, depictions of cicada nymphs developing underground, cicada folklore, and more; while the Cincinnati History Museum is offering a computer station for exploring the connection between cicadas and Native Americans, and cicada-related artifacts dating to the late 1800s. For cicada getaways away from the museums, catch live music at various venues throughout the city on Thursday nights through June 24.

Indiana

For more cicada fever in the Midwest, kids can head to the WonderLab science museum in Bloomington. The "Cicada Mania for Kids!" program, offered June 5 and 6, features a slide show and a lecture on Brood X by Keith Clay, an Indiana University biology professor and cicada expert.

Also this month, Clay will lead cicada-hunting walks on the grounds of the university's Research and Teaching Preserve at Griffy Woods.

Continued on Next Page >>


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