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And thus, we begin the Cicada Chronicles of 2004

May 4, 2004

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Fear the cicada? Or embrace these winged wonders that appear just once every 17 years?

You don't have much time to decide: The first Maryland cicadas of the massive infestation known as Brood X have started emerging from their underground lairs, state agriculture officials say. From now until the end of June, millions of them will join us above ground, noisily mating before they die off and leave behind a crunchy mess.

The Buzz will track the cicadas' brief sojourn in our midst - the delight or dismay that they cause, the events they interrupt or inspire, the soundtrack they will provide to our lives for the next couple of months.

Already, for example, you can toast the coming swarm, or at least calm your cicada-xiety: The Degrees bar at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington's Georgetown is offering a cicada-tini through June. Bartender Michael Brown sought to evoke the flavor of spring with this blend of Grey Goose vodka, pineapple juice and Blue Curacao.

"It has a very light, refreshing citrus flavor," said Damien O'Riordan, the hotel's food and beverage director.

And if you end up enjoying these $12 cocktails a little too much and need to spend the night at the hotel, you'll be treated to a second seasonal treat: a tres ritzy gold leaf-and-Valrhona-chocolate cicada on your pillow.

"We just want to have a bit of fun," O'Riordan said.

We all do - so our cicada correspondents will continue beating the bushes for such cicad-iana, which we'll report here throughout the coming weeks.

But we also want to hear your tales from the infestation front.

Anecdotes of any kind are welcome: sightings, strategies, happenings, horror stories. If you're a shutterbug, send us a photo; if you're otherwise inspired - to rant, rhyme or even reminisce about previous cicada summers - send those as well.

We'll print the most Buzz-worthy items in this feature throughout the invasion. Here's how to contact us:

  • By mail: Cicada Buzz, c/o Features Dept., The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278

  • By e-mail: Send e-mails with the subject line Cicada Buzz to sun.features@ baltsun.com (if you attach a photo, please save it as a JPEG image at a minimum of 200 dpi).