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Periodical Cicadas: A Resource Guide

Historical Newspaper Articles

Photograph of " the locusts are awake."
1911 Invasion of Insect Armies 1911. The Paonia Newspaper. Chronicling America.

Throughout time, the episodic emergence of periodical cicadas was big news. Articles on the subject were accompanied by drawings of cicada development stages and maps of where the emergence would occur. Often, article authors would refer to cicadas as “locusts” even though they have no close relationship to locusts or grasshoppers. People would panic as they thought the emergence would bring the same devastation as the notable locust and grasshopper plagues of the Midwest during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 

You can search historic American newspapers using the Library's Chronicling America database using keywords such as "cicadas," or "17 year locusts." Searches can be refined by date, as well as state and publication name. For some highlights from the past cicada emergences, check out the selected articles below.