Local Cicada Expert Says the Bugs Taste Like “Crunchy Honey,” May Bypass Baltimore

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Loyola biology professor David Rivers is the kind of bug guy who’s into cockroach racing, mealworm stir fries, and maggot spitting contests. (Seriously.) And his research is even grosser! But we’re not here to talk about flies that feed on fetal pigs (ick); it’s cicadas we’re interested in. And Rivers has some answers.

First things first: yes, Baltimore last saw a major brood of cicadas in 2004, and yes, the bugs hatch from underground every 17 years. The next major cicada year for Baltimore will be 2021. But since there are multiple broods, 2013 will also be a cicada year — just don’t expect it to be quite as exciting as it was back then. In 2004, we had two different species of cicadas in Baltimore, according to Rivers: “If you picked one up, you could tell by the size and the membranes.”

This year, Rivers says that most experts predict the insects “will be mostly restricted to the southern part of the state and into Virginia,” although there’s some debate as to whether the cycle has shifted — which would make a Baltimore infestation much more possible. Rivers’s prediction, though, is that “Baltimore City is going to be disappointed, probably.” But you should probably get your cicada recipes ready, just in case. (“They’re very, very sweet because when they were in the ground, they’ve been eating the roots of trees. It’s like eating crunchy honey in some sense,” Rivers told Loyola Magazine.) The fortuitously-named John Roach has some excellent suggestions for how to prepare the low-fat, gluten free insects over at National Geographic. Cicada cocktail, anyone?



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