The truth about cicadas — from the Editors of Internet ScamBusters
Five popular questions about cicadas:
- Are cicadas vicious killers?
- Do cicadas prey on innocent children and pets?
- Will cicadas really kill more people this year than snakes, spiders, scorpions, and sharks combined?
- Do cicadas have deadly venom and flesh-eating bacteria?
- Can you earn good money collecting them for science?
The answer to all of these questions is simple: no.
The truth about cicadas
‘Brood X’ cicadas are now emerging after living underground for 17 years. There are millions of them, and they have just a few weeks to mate and lay eggs before they die.
But they stick around long enough to cause rumors to fly — and hoaxes to develop.
The cicada is brown, with red eyes, but very occasional instances of blue, silver or white eyes have been reported in the past.
That’s just enough to start a great hoax about cicadas!
The latest email hoax about cicadas is that the world-famous John Hopkins University will pay from $100 – $1000 for ‘rare blue-eyed cicadas.’
The University’s biology department has been swarmed (pun intended) with calls from people hoping for more information on these cicadas so they can begin their search for ‘ol blue eyes.’
You see, back in 1947 a biologist there offered to pay Baltimore children 25 cents for every 100 fireflies they brought him — he needed them for some research. He got millions. Every summer. For years.
But no one at John Hopkins University right now is studying cicadas — there isn’t even an entomologist in the biology department!
No one knows for sure where the cash for cicadas rumor started, but just like the bugs themselves, it seems to reappear — every 17 years. <grin>
And in case you’ve heard otherwise, “it is not,” as health commissioner of Baltimore, Dr. Peter L. Beilenson, has announced, “the end of civilization as we know it.” He even had to call a news conference to reassure local citizens! 😉
He did, however, provide a scientific estimate of the number of cicadas that will crawl from the ground in Maryland and attach themselves to trees, screen doors and human hair: “in the billions.”
But they don’t sting or bite or hurt humans, animals or trees.