Saturday, May 22, 2004

Cicadas Return for Mating Season After 17 Years in Hiding: "There is a natural phenomenon of biblical proportions hiding beneath D.C.'s soil, and it has the potential to make this summer the most memorable of the past 17 years.

"After 17 years in hibernation, cicadas, locust-like insects, will surface in large swarms in several parts of the country, mostly in areas between New Jersey and Georgia. The district is expected to start seeing the flying insects beginning in mid-May and ending around mid-June. They are similar to, but are definitely not, the insects that caused one of the plagues in the Bible."

"Surprisingly, cicadas have a historical significance in the district's black community. Benjamin Banneker is believed to be the first person to document the life cycle of cicadas. In his book, The Life of Benjamin Banneker, he wrote about first seeing the cicadas in large numbers in 1749 when he was 17. He then recorded their return in 1766 and again in 1783. He accurately predicted their return in 1800."

Following the 17-year cycle, that means they came when he was in utero—interesting destiny. So, in following the 17-year cycles, that means they came in 1834, 1851, 1868, 1885, 1902, 1919, 1936, 1953, 1970 and 1987. Seventeen years after that comes … 2004! Oh joy.

"In recognition of the cicada's return and Benjamin Banneker, a plan is in effect to have a statue of Banneker erected in Banneker Overlook Park, near L'Enfant Plaza."

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