Brood X’s cicadas wreaked havoc on the President and reporters as he left the United States on his first trip overseas.
Journalists heading to the UK for US President Joe Biden‘s first overseas trip have been delayed by seven hours after their charter plane was overrun by cicadas.
Even Biden was not spared. The president brushed a cicada on the back of his neck as he chatted with his Air Force host after arriving at Joint Base Andrews for Wednesday’s flight.
“Watch out for the cicadas,” Biden then told reporters. âI just got one. It just got me.
The Washington, DC area is one of many parts of the country that have been overrun by the Brood X cicadas, a large emergence of noisy insects that engage in dive bombings on moving vehicles and unsuspecting passers-by. There are billions of them in the Washington, Maryland and Virginia area, said University of Maryland entomologist Paula Shrewsbury. Their current number has not been seen for 17 years.
The bugs also attempted to hide on Air Force Two on Sunday when Vice President Kamala Harris flew to Guatemala. The cicadas were caught hiding in the folds of the shirts of a secret service agent and photographer, and escorted off the plane before take off.
The cicadas – which sing to attract mates with sci-fi sounding buzzes – seem to be attracted to other noises, entomologists said. Maybe that’s what happened with the plane.
âThe loud noise produced by the machine deceives the cicadas who interpret the noise as a chorus of cicadas they want to join and they fly towards it,â said Shrewsbury. “I noticed that when planes flew over my house, the cicadas increased their sound levels in chorus, potentially rivaling the noise of planes.”
It is not known how the cicadas disrupted the mechanics of the press plane. Weather problems and crew rest also contributed to the flight delay on Tuesday evening. Ultimately, the plane was swapped for another and the flight took off shortly after 4:00 a.m. EDT (08:00 GMT) on Wednesday.
“Well, why wouldn’t the cicadas want to go to the UK with the President of the United States?” Asked University of Maryland entomologist Mike Raupp. Periodic cicadas are mainly found in the United States, with two small exceptions in Asia. They are not in Europe. At least not yet.
This is not the first time that cicadas have wreaked havoc at a presidential event or served as political fodder.
In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt, known for his thunderous voice, nearly drowned in a speech at Arlington National Cemetery.
Eighty-five years later – five cycles of cicadas – President Ronald Reagan in a radio speech explained how Washington was invaded and compared the harmless flying insects to big spenders.
âI think almost everyone would agree, things will be a lot nicer when the cicadas come back underground,â Reagan said.
In a 2004 attack ad, Republicans attacked Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, now Biden’s special climate adviser, by likening him to loud cicadas that vanish.
The three former residents of the White House – George W Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump – had run-ins with annoying house flies, said University of Illinois entomologist May Berenbaum. And then there’s the fly that perched on Vice President Mike Pence’s head during a live Vice Presidential Debate last year, she said.