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Cicada crises expected in ballparks

OK, so it’s not exactly the plague of locusts promised for the End Times, but baseball teams in the Eastern United States are bracing for the onslaught of billions of Brood X cicadas emerging from their underground locations after 17 years of maturing.

These cicadas don’t actually travel in packs like locust or grasshoppers, but they can be annoying nevertheless. There are several broods of cicadas across the country, but this year’s Brood X is the largest, and many expect it to impact outdoor venues and activities, which includes ballgames. The young cicadas mature at the feet of trees, so the closer a ballpark is to a grove of trees, the more likely the ballpark will be affected. And with billions of cicadas rising from the dirt in areas ranging from eastern Oklahoma and Missouri to southern Iowa and Louisiana to southern New York State, there are plenty of groundskeepers that will need to glean up messes, mostly in Minor League Baseball parks. From the Washington Post:

“I have not seen one yet, but I’m telling you, they’re coming,” Bowie Baysox General Manager Brian Shallcross said Friday in a phone interview.

Shallcross was in his second year with the Baysox and first as the general manager in 2004, the last time Brood X — one of the largest of the periodical cicada broods in the United States — tunneled up from the soil where they had been living off sap from tree roots to find a mate and take in some minor league baseball on the side. With trees surrounding much of the 27-year-old ballpark, the cicadas made their presence felt — and heard — that spring in Bowie.

“The noise was deafening,” Shallcross recalled. “I don’t think that affected our operations much, but so many died on our roof and got washed into our gutters that they clogged the gutters and drains. It was a terrible pain in the butt to clean.”

2004 cicada photo via Wikimedia Commons.

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