One woman contacted the Home and Garden Information Center recently with a different proposal on how to speed up the cicadas' progress.

"She volunteered to rip up her driveway so they'd have easier access to the surface," Shell said.

Some businesses think Brood X can't get here fast enough.

Annapolis Car Wash has stockpiled chemical insect remover, ordering 30 gallons more Don't Bug Me than usual on the assumption that the shrimp-size insects will leave plenty of big splats on speeding cars.

If cicada guts are left to bake in the hot sun, says manager Jaime Neale, "it's going to eat through your paint pretty quick."

Sylvan Beach Cafe in Mount Vernon, meanwhile, will debut a new ice cream flavor today called Cicada. "You bite into it and get that crunch feel in your mouth," said Sylvan Beach CEO Chris Council.

The crunch, however, will be entirely artificial, he quickly notes. "We're going with a mint-based ice cream with bits of Kit Kat in it." A scoop will run about $2.25.

But the impending arrival of Brood X continues to create scheduling worries for many.

Concerned that people would be "picking cicadas from their food," the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company decided to delay its outdoor performances of Much Ado About Nothing, scheduled June 11 to July 11 at the Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park in Ellicott City.

Teachers at Franklin Middle School in Reisterstown are struggling with how to cool classrooms that lack both air conditioning and window screens.

Jean-Paul Bibaud, the science department chairman, said window fans are the obvious choice. Or so it seemed.

"What's going to happen when we do that and cicadas start swarming in and get chopped up in the fans," he said. "How fun will it be to teach while that's going on?"

Despite the imminent invasion, Towson University is proceeding with plans for the campus' first outdoor graduation ceremony in at least 15 years.

"We haven't had an outside commencement in so long and, lo and behold, the year we pick is the year of the cicada," said Susanna Craine, a university spokeswoman.

Sitting on the front lawn of a Roland Park home yesterday afternoon eating his lunch, tree cutter Bill Frederick scoffed at the cicada mania. Frederick, 54, who has seen Brood X come and go three times during his life, said he thinks there's been "way too much hype."

"I hope they live up to the expectations," he says between bites of his sandwich.

On a nearby tree, the remnants of several dozen cicadas - and a few of the insects themselves - clung silently to the bark.

Sun staff writers Lane Harvey Brown, Mary Gail Hare, Jennifer McMenamin and Jackie Powder contributed to this article.