Ah, Memorial Day. Time to soak up the sun (this weather notwithstanding), fire up the grill, and get outside to enjoy that very first rite of summer's unofficial beginning — the all-American cookout. Except this particular American summer, like each summer every 17 years on the East Coast before it, has a certain shared airspace peculiarity: cicadas. The sex-craven bugs have arrived from the underground and have been spotted in backyards all the way from down in Louisiana, up to New York, and onto Massachusetts. But fear not, BBQ-ers! The Atlantic Wire's resident cicada expert is here to help! Indeed, cicadas and humans alike can celebrate this long weekend in peace, together.
Cicada BBQ Tip No. 1: Do Not Eat Each Other at the Cicada-cue!
Many of us look forward to this particular weekend for that first outdoor grill session — and this Memorial Day shouldn't be any different than any of the last 16 Memorial Days before it. Fear not, BBQ-ers! Just because some sensational newspapers have suggested that the insect crunchers might taste good, you probably don't want to put cicadas on your cookout menu. The Atlantic's James Hamblin makes a compelling case: "It's less about eating screaming bugs, and more about eating things that have been in the ground for 17 years," he writes. Also, have you seen the photos and videos of dudes attempting to eat the bugs? Even the guy pretending to look happy doesn't look happy. Do you really want to be eating something that cats and dogs find delicious?
Same goes for you, cicada BBQ-ers! Don't eat us, and you'll have a solid grill sesh yourselves, little guys. Entomologists have said that, in general, the horny bugs have only one mission on this here above-ground earth, and it's not to bite or sting people. (Even though they can mistake an arm for tree and attempt to suck sap out.) But maybe after reading some Internet articles about how good humans might taste, the noisy masses will get some ideas. Please don't. You're supposed to survive on the fat stored in trees while you're up here, according to our cicada summer buddies over at CicadaMania. And you can have the trees, little guys. Eat all the grilled trees you want.
Cicada BBQ Tip No. 2: Party Together!
Some humans have already decided to make a sport out of viral bug-stomping. Not only is this a fruitless endeavor — there are millions per square mile — but it's not a very fun way to spend the holiday. Fear not, BBQ-ers! There are bug and human friendly activities! Here are two party games everyone can enjoy:
- Coke and Pepsi What better way to get over awkward encounters than this fun bar mitzvah favorite. For those unfamiliar, here's a pretty good explanation:
This is a popular game because everyone old and young can play. Two lines across the dance floor, 1 Coke and 1 Pepsi. When one name is called that side runs to the other side and sits on the knee of their partner. Last ones there are out. You can mix this game up by using other names and other things to do, i.e. call out Seven-Up and Both Lines run to the middle and high 5 their partner, say Star Trek and everyone raises their right hand up and yells "BEAM ME UP SCOTTY", or you can call out the name of the guest of honor and everyone points at them and yells out "YOU ARE THE GREATEST!"
- Dance Party! While humans put on one of the albums of the summer, cicadas can do what they do best and make their own love songs. "We've had some good, rip-roaring choruses," one cicada-expert professor reported to NBC News from Virginia. Each of your respective dance parties should, however, be respectful of volume. If human music drowns out the cicada mating sounds (as in, you're playing your iPod dock louder than a buzz saw), then the bugs might not find their lovers, which would be a romantic tragedy. If cicadas can't keep it below their usual 120-decibel volume, consider buying earplugs when you pick up those little corn holders.
Cicada BBQ Tip No. 3: Respect Each Others' BBQ Space!
Cicada BBQ parties aren't for everyone. Understandably, some people might find bugs gross, in which case they can watch the phenomenon from afar via this entrancing Cicada Cam, via the Science Channel — or by searching for them on any social media platform. And some cicadas might have no interest in mingling with the creatures from above, in which case they can stay up in their trees and just do what they do best. Feel free to get ideas.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.