back to article PLAGUE of SEX CRAZED MONSTER GRASSHOPPERS to hit East Coast

A horny insect horde is set to hit the East Coast of America in search of sex after lying dormant for almost two decades. Billions of cicadas are hatching out of the ground and swarming across the eastern seaboard looking for love. They have been sighted around the East Coast but numbers are expected to swell to biblical …


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  1. Lost In Clouds of Data
    IT Angle

    Noisy little buggers...

    ...and made a fine continuous meal (indeed, it was a veritable Smörgåsbord) for our resident Chipmunk when we were hit by Brood X in 2004.

    Wackiest thing was at night though when, at a certain point in time, the entire local population would go silent. It wouldn't be a decreasing volume, just sudden silence.

    Bit like they'd all been hit with a BSOD. (Yay, got an IT angle in there!)

    1. garalus

      Re: Noisy little buggers...

      I remember seeing the Royal Institution Christmas lectures a few years ago about prime numbers. The cicadas were mentioned due to the fact that their appearance was every 17 years which is a prime and the lecture proceeded to explain why it was every 17 years and not any of the earlier prime years. I can't remember the explanation but as its maths, that's the IT angle right?

      1. Kebabbert

        Re: Noisy little buggers...

        Yes, there is an explanation why their cycle is 17 years. It is something like this (cant remember the details):

        cicadas had a short cycle of 1 years, and their predators too. Then cicadas switched to 2 years, and the predators who had a cycle of 1 year, adapted. Then cicadas switched to 3 years, and the predators too. The cicadas could not switch to 4 years, because that is 2*2 years which the predators could handle (they knew how to handle 2 year cycles). So the cicadas tried prime number long cycles, because non primes could the predators handle. Finally, when the cicadas switched to 17 years, the predators had to try every combination (2 years, 3 years, 4 years, etc) but the cycle when they meet was far too long so the predators died out.

        It has to do with least common divisor. When you try to find a cycle of 2,3,5 years it is doable, but it takes time. But when you go to 17 years, the predators will meet the cicadas once in every 217 year (or so) which the predators could not handle. So they died out of starvation.

        It is described in the book "Fermats last theorem" by Simon Singh.

        1. Dan Beshear

          Re: Noisy little buggers...

          Problem with that hypothesis is that the little bastards come out here EVERY YEAR.

          Try again?

          1. Kebabbert

            Re: Noisy little buggers...

            EVERY YEAR?

            Ok, then I missunderstood what the article is about. I am talking about the cicadas with a 17 year long cycle, who are about to hatch this year. Maybe the article is not about the 17 year cicadas. My apologees for confusing.

            1. Irony Deficient

              Re: Noisy little buggers...

              Kebabbert, no, you didn’t misunderstand the article; it is reporting on one brood of the 17-year cicadas. Next year, a different brood of 17ers will emerge in Iowa, and a 13-year brood will emerge in Louisiana and a few other states. Dan is exaggerating somewhat; there are some places that host different broods, and thus have Magicicada appearances more often than once every 13 or 17 years; but no place sees them every single year. (For example, none emerged at all in 2005 and 2006.)

    2. garalus

      Re: Noisy little buggers...

      In fact, Royal Institution lecture was:

  2. Ketlan

    Lots and lots and lots...

    According to the Independent, they're expecting around thirty BILLION of these little buggers. And I complained because one fly annoyed me by coming into my kitchen yesterday!

    1. Lost In Clouds of Data

      Re: Lots and lots and lots...

      It was most, er, entertaining driving on the freeway, windscreen wipers a whipping just to remove the bugs from the glass. Almost biblical. Certainly worthy of an Irwin Allen disaster movie in the 1970's

      Cicadas are meant to find their one true love on a tree, but are so amazingly stupid (or desperate) they'll settle for any vertical port in the storm, walls, sides of cars, humans. Just as long as it's vertical.

      It was, how shall we say, an experience. Fortunately being in the Brood X zone, we're free of the buggers now until 2021 (although a few may pop up in 2020 having a terrible head for time).

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lots and lots and lots...

      I live on the East coast, and I welcome our new sex crazed overlords.

      1. Eddy Ito

        Re: Lots and lots and lots...

        Ah Taylor 1, you must know the wonder that is cicada rhubarb pie. Overlords they are for all too brief a period. Freeze them while you can kids, they keep marvelously that way; a bit like peas in that respect.

        It brings back great memories though. My grandfather kept what must have been one of the first chest freezers that he would stock up with cicadas and as I grew up Grams would make either the aforementioned pie or if they've been frozen a while roasted cicadas drizzled with honey or maple syrup and Gramps and I would go fishing with a few "extra" cicadas in hopes of coming back with some nice trout as a prelude. Good times indeed.

        Beer because it can work well but depending on the cicada dish I generally go with a Chianti if it's savory, a sauvignon blanc with the pie and for roasted a ruby Port is hard to beat but a Madeira or Marsala is a very close second.

      2. Beachrider

        You realize that the cicadas only want...

        ... sex with one another. This isn't an opportunity for personal romance...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What Newcastle, Hull, Ipswich, London ?

    Oh I see, septic tank land.

    Ah well serves them right, they are getting a good old dose of biblical pestilence for being World bullies.

  4. Turtle

    Re: The cicada recipes linked to:....

    Re: the recipes linked to:

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Cicadas sound like an AMPS (Advance Mobile Phone System, the US analog (and now defunct) cellular system) control channel.

    And yes, ONE cicada is 100dB. Imagine an entire woods full of them.

    It's quieter on Main street in Sturgis the first week of August.

    1. GBE

      Re: AMPS

      Back in the early 80's I did hardware and software design for AMPS

      cellular mobile and base station stuff, and remember ilstening to a lot of that data (it was particularly useful to listen to the unmuted data bursts on the voice channels). It did sound a lot like cicadas. :)

      IIRC, it was manchester encoded with a 5KHz clock....

      I worked on the firmware for a competitor (almost a clone) of the Motorola DynaTAC 8000 shown on that page...

      1. drewsup

        Re: AMPS

        i always they sounded more like a circular saw going through a stack of 2X4's than anything else, the duration lasted about the same too. man they are LOUD!

  6. IDoNotThinkSo

    The 17 years bit is interesting tho'.

    Any species specific predators or parasites would have a hard time matching their emergence, what with it being a prime number.

    Doesn't stop all the generalists having a cicada munching party, mind.

    1. FartingHippo


      Even more interestingly, there's another species which runs on a 13-year cycle, so they'll only meet the 17-year bugs every 221 years.

      Insects are cool.

      1. Wzrd1 Silver badge

        Re: Primes

        Actually, many have merged with the 17 year brood.

        I live in the Brood II area, remember as a kid one brood. Got nailed by two flying cicadas, flew right into me and the impact killed them. Smarted quite a bit, they're as heavy as they are stupid.

      2. Irony Deficient

        Re: Primes

        FartingHippo, there are several species of Magicicada; if I remember right, half of the species are on 13-year cycles, and half are on 17-year cycles. The 221-year intersection happened with two of the broods in the late 1990s, and another intersection with two other broods will happen in the 2020s. Since the 13-year broods tend to be southern, and the 17-year broods tend to be northern, the intersections happen in the middle tier of states (roughly around the latitude of the Ohio River).

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Look on the bright side...

    At least they don't have tentacles, because then it could become a totally different hentai-alike story where the Japanese could only dream off ;-)

    1. Wzrd1 Silver badge

      Re: Look on the bright side...

      Or Lovecraft...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Triggered by hormones, they will become adults before having huge orgies...."

    Won't somebody please think of the larvae!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    NOT grasshoppers!

    As an entomologist I have to strongly object to the title of this article... cicadas aren't even in the same order as grasshoppers, and aside from relative size they don't look much alike. This is kind of like comparing humans to rabbits. Cicadas don't do the kind of massive crop damage that swarms of grasshoppers can, either, so though they're inconvenient and loud they aren't really a problem otherwise. Bad science, people!

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: NOT grasshoppers!

      "aside from relative size they don't look much alike"

      So, you're telling me there's a chance?

      (Sadly, cicadas don't make quite so good a headline.)


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: NOT grasshoppers!

      Indeed. Here in Australia we suffer from plagues of grasshoppers that happily devour our crops. We have also at various times have had plagues of mice, rabbits and dingoes, floods, droughts, cyclones, bush fires and an assortment of wildlife that wants us dead. On the other hand, we have plenty of sunshine (and the highest skin cancer incidence in the world).

      Having said that, I love the place and wouldn't live anywhere else.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: NOT grasshoppers!

        So you're saying that there's room in Oz for another invasive species without impacting the quality of life? Remind me to dig up some Cicadas after Brood 2 gets done with their spring break, and transplant them outside of Sydney.

        Hey, it can't be worse than the cane toads.....

        1. Gray Ham

          Re: NOT grasshoppers!

          We have several of our own species of cicada, but thanks for the offer. Incidentally, the "Sydney Greengrocer" cicada is reputedly even louder than than the Yankee variety.

    3. ItsNotMe

      Re: NOT grasshoppers!

      "This is kind of like comparing humans to rabbits."

      Hey...I know some humans who fornicate like Rabbits...and reproduce in like numbers. Not such a bad comparison, really.

    4. Wzrd1 Silver badge

      Re: NOT grasshoppers!

      Not quite accurate, they can and have impacted mast crops. That largely impacted the squirrel population, which is fine by me.

      Bloody tree rats ravage my garden!

      As for them not being grasshoppers, you're spot on. Something one expects of an entomologist. :)

      The closest other "harm" that they're known to inflict is stupidly flying into people and objects, frequently to lethal effect on the insect.

      Though, they're not all that noisy to my ears. At least not since that damned IED went off. :/

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: NOT grasshoppers!

      this grasshopper vs cicada thing is the only reason why i've logged in to post a comment or, as i have done, upvote an existing comment about the two NOT being the same...

      i've seen and played with some really huge grasshoppers when i was a kid in south georgia usa... they were at least 1.5 inches in diameter across their body and would eat half an apple in 30 minutes or so... they were at least 6 inches long, too... after we moved our school location from where we saw these (in the city) to a more rural area, i've never seen them again... no clue where they came from but they sure could jump some pretty large distances without opening their wings...

      there's no way that any cicada can be mistaken for a grasshopper...

      anonymous because i can ;)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tracking Website

    The Real Time Map mentioned is hosted here:

    The site linked in the article is just embedding the RadioLab website.

    (Though it's not really real-time).

  11. Stevie


    I've seen two waves of these buggers already. Loud yes, motorbike loud, no.

    They actually sound like a lawn sprinkler system, admittedly a big lawn sprinkler system, and that's when they all get going together.

    They look more like cockroaches than grasshoppers, mostly black and about the size of a man's thumb, with iridescent wings.

    The worst part is in early September when their corpses litter the sidewalks and fall from the trees. Disgusting.

    Nature. Ban this filth.

    1. Tom 35

      Re: Nah...

      That must be some lawn sprinkler system you have!

      Just the normal late summer with a few of them singing from the trees is loud. I've never run into thousands of them (may flies so thick I thought it was foggy at first yes).

    2. Wzrd1 Silver badge

      Re: Nah...

      Some lawn sprinkler system you have!

      They are loud, but since they're well away from the ground, where we happen to hang out, they don't SEEM so loud. Inverse square law and all.

      Had one confused cicada cut loose close to me and close to the ground, startled is an understatement. Just glad that I had voided recently...

  12. Spoonsinger


    It's the only answer. IGMC

  13. Francis Boyle

    'orrible looking creatures

    Each to his own I suppose, but I've always considered considered cicadas to be one of the more beautiful animals.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    I see a new Syfy movie in the making....

    "Cicada Storm", or maybe "Cicada vs. Crocosaurus"!!

    1. Palf

      Re: I see a new Syfy movie in the making....

      Mutations - you forgot mutations. They need to be enormous and with those larger brains, group consciousness emerges and they all do something radical - like run for president or starting a company.

  15. ACx

    You'd think the bible bashing yanks would get the message.

    1. Irony Deficient

      the message

      ACx, do you mean like Leviticus 11:21–23?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: the message

        Or Exodus 1-20

      2. Allan George Dyer

        "insects that walk on all fours" Re: the message

        I can't decide, did Leviticus fail at maths or biology?

        1. Irony Deficient

          Re: “insects that walk on all fours”

          Allan, perhaps an idiomatic 17th century AD English translation isn’t the best guide to judging the wording of a 4th century BC Hebrew text? I’m no Hebrew scholar, but it looks as though הַהֹלֵךְ עַל-אַרְבַּע in verse 21 has a literal English translation of “goes on four”; that is, no “all” in the original. (Any students of Torah here who can confirm or deny?) Thus, taken literally, the failure would be on the biological side, since locusts and friends use all six legs to go walkabout. But it seems to me that the point of this text was to distinguish the acceptable edible insects from the unacceptable edible insects, and despite the inaccurate behavioral description, it sufficed to allow Joe Shepherd to differentiate between the two varieties — sort of a “do what I meant, not what I said” situation.

  16. Curly4


    Someone in England dose not understand American English or they are deliberately misusing it. The locus plague that is about to hit the east cost of US are not "grasshoppers". Locus is a local term for cicadas and not for the grasshoppers as stated in the headline.

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge


      p.s. I didn't downvote you

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        but even then a locust is more like a grasshopper than a cicada... i've never, in 50+ years, ever heard anyone refer to a cicada as a locust as someone posted... yes, i've lived in all of the southern tier of the states as well as a good portion of the rest ;)

    2. skeptical i

      Spring break again?

      Yay for daddy's credit card.

      <-- it ain't spring break without beer

  17. rtea


    From the title there I thought you meant Norfolk. Phew....

    1. Goes to 11

      Re: Phew....

      They did mean Norfolk.....Norfolk, Virginia. Phew!

  18. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    Reminds me of students...

    " Larvae hatch from the eggs and chew into nearby foliage, before heading back underground and getting some shuteye for the next 17 years, before erupting for yet another insect sex-fest."

  19. Tikimon
    Thumb Up

    Been there, OMG WOT'S THAT NOISE!!!

    My wife and I have stumbled into periodic cicada emergences about five times since 2003 (American South) usually while mountain biking. A large group can indeed be deafening. Half the people we show our pix to insist they're locusts, argh! The only actual damage they do is when laying eggs. The females slice into twigs to insert their eggs, weakening the twig which may break and fall off.

    If you don't live where the noisy buggers emerge, the excellent Planet Earth series takes a great look at them in one episode (I forget which). If you have a chance to see then in the wild, DO IT! Wear a hat, they will blunder into anything.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Came back across Salisbury Plain late one night on the bike, must have been some sort of Moth orgy going on could hardly see through the visor from bug splatters and my bike jacket was more yellow than black.

    Was like riding through the windows star field screen saver - pitch black to either side and all these moths light up by the headlight streaking towards me.

    Dread to think what riding through a plague of these buggers would be like...

    1. Wzrd1 Silver badge

      A million welts. They're a bit massive and dense.

      Had one hit me head on while I was riding my bike as a kid, another slam into me two weeks later while I was on foot.

      On a motorcycle, you'd better have a good leather jacket to distribute the impact or you'd be covered in welts.

  21. Gazman

    Using the Ladder of Abstractions for Safer Headlines


    There, fixed it. All the cicada/grasshopper/locust stuff can drop down the chute now.

  22. Huckleberry Muckelroy

    "The Locusts Sang"

    Actually they are very pretty, if you like large flying insects. Bob Dylan wrote a song to the 17 year Cicadas. He received an honorary degree from Princeton in a year of a hatch-out. "The Locusts Sang" is a pretty song.

  23. Reyouthroot
    Thumb Down

    Still waiting

    I lost touch with American scary annual arrival theory's.

    I was still awaiting the highly aggressive Africanized Bees.

    Or may the American scare press is the real pest plague.

  24. Jonathan Richards 1

    gothamist web hog

    Jeez, that Gothamist site you linked to wanted to run Javascript from FIFTEEN different sites, and pull in data from TWENTY. And it isn't even the ultimate source of the cicada mapper, which is at

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