Outsider Insider: Wes Blankenship Takes Wild Journey Inside the Mind of a Brood X Cicada

by Halle Ames

Remember when you were young and would find cicada bug shells on trees and stick them to your shirt? Oh wait, was that just us?

Well, they are back. Get ready to break out that fashionable accessory again.

Wes Blankenship dove a bit deeper into the Brood X Cicada’s highly unwelcome return on this recent episode of Outsider Insider. He spoke to an Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent at UGA about the bugs.

“Alright, I’m here with James Thomas Murphy, and he’s the cicada man,” states Blankenship.

Quite the title. Murphy notes how loud and plentiful the cicadas will be this year.

“Now, this will kind of give you an idea of sort of what we’re looking at. You know, it’s a rather large insect. They’re causing a bit of disturbance just because of the sheer number of these things as they’re coming out.”

Eat Up!

Wes Blankenship then goes into a brief discussion about the cicadas popular nickname: tree shrimp. TREE SHRIMP! ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Guess who is never eating another shrimp again.

Why, you ask does Wes liken the creepy, crawling cicadas to a delicious ocean dweller? Well, because people have now decided to take a liking to the taste of them. Gags.

“You know, I’m for it, and maybe that makes me a weirdo, but I’ll wear that on my sleeve,” laughs Murphy. “Tree shrimp? To me, I feel like that should be more of an appealing term. Right? You know, shrimp is something I think, especially here in the south, we eat without a second thought.”

Murphy continues, saying there is a “key” to getting them while they are ripe.

“The key is, I think you want to get them basically right after they come up out of the ground, and they shed that last bit of their exoskeleton to become adults before they soften up. It’s almost like a soft shell crab, I think.”

Wes Blankenship speaks for the rest of us, saying, “you can have my cicadas, James. You can have all my cicadas.”

Loud Cicadas May Rise Early

Also, you should prepare yourself for an “early awakening” of the creatures, as this is not uncommon for them to rise early and “scream” in the trees. Yes, Murphy used the term scream. And who can you blame for this hollering? That would be the males who vibrate their abdomens, which can reach 100 decibels at times.

The Brood X Cicada is also called the pharaoh cicada due to its unique call, which sounds like they are singing the word pharaoh. Wes Blankenship describes it as the “men showing off their abs.”

But they are bugs… with exoskeletons… and they scream… and are called shrimp and crabs…

Murphy says it’s almost like an “extreme twerk.” Just call these bugs Cardi B.

Why do cicadas inch their way out of the ground early? Murphy says it could be due to their diet of tree roots and biology with more strength in numbers.

“These females lay these eggs, and you know, this whole four to six weeks process of emerging, calling, mating, and then laying eggs, and then they’re gonna emerge again another four to six weeks later. Then before you know it, they are tucked underground.”

But what about this brood cicada situation that has been brewing for 17 years?

“We do expect about every year somewhere around the eastern United States will see some of these coming out, some of the species. But they all come out in these huge numbers, and that’s why we called him a brood.”

Furthermore, depending on where you live could determine how large the brood is.

Do with that information what you will. I’m not telling you to move, but I’m saying you might want to consider it.