Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


30 Billion Sex-Crazed Cicadas to Swarm U.S.

Today in biblical plagues: The Brood II

Print Email

Is this the most Jewish science story of all time? According to scientists, any day now a surge of red-eyed cicadas (called magicicadas) will swarm the East Coast from North Carolina to Connecticut in a biblical plague that could include anywhere from 30 billion to 1 trillion sexually repressed and buzzing participants.

It’s being called the Brood II and pockets of the country will littered with cicada corpses. But not before the mating hums reach as loud as 94 decibels. Sound apocalyptic? Entomologist May Berenbaum says we should just relax. It’s just the life cycle.

“It’s not like these hordes of cicadas suck blood or zombify people.”

They’re looking for just one thing: sex. And they’ve been waiting quite a long time.

Since 1996, this group of 1-inch bugs, in wingless nymph form, has been a few feet underground, sucking on tree roots and biding their time. They will emerge only when the ground temperature reaches precisely 64 degrees. After a few weeks up in the trees, they will die and their offspring will go underground, not to return until 2030.

“It’s just an amazing accomplishment,” Berenbaum says. “How can anyone not be impressed?”

What’s also impressive is that 30 billion cicadas lined up head to the tail would reach the moon and back. While it’s possible that many people may not even see a cicada when the brood begins, some of the goyim are already getting nervous.

“I don’t mean to sound like a wizard or fortune teller, but Staten Island should strap in,” said [Scientist John] Cooley, who expects them to arrive in New York City around May 20. His logic is simple: That borough was overrun by Brood II in 1996.

Apparently, the Brood happens every 17 years. Sounds a little young, nu?

East About to Be Overrun by Billions of Cicadas [AP]
Bugged by Cicada Brood II? Don’t Be [WSJ]

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

30 Billion Sex-Crazed Cicadas to Swarm U.S.

Today in biblical plagues: The Brood II

More on Tablet:

Herman Wouk’s Fire Island Synagogue

By Jas Chana — The centenarian author formed an Orthodox congregation in his home in 1952. It thrives today.