Fairfax Co. scientist & rapper drops bars about buzzing cicadas

In case you haven’t gotten enough of the resurgent Brood X cicadas and the kitschy fanfare around them, there’s now a rap to accompany this 17-year phenomenon.

By day, Andy Lima works at the Disease Carrying Insect Program for Fairfax County, Virginia’s health department.

But when he’s not in the lab (or so one would hope), he becomes MC Bugg-Z, the bar-dropping factoid machine who condenses the story of the cicadas into a neat, three-minute rap titled “Brood X-ellence”

“It’s Brood X / Periodical Cicada / It’s Brood 10, and it’s / Brood X-cellent to see you again”


FAQ: Everything you need to know about cicadas in the D.C. area


Rap may be the best medium to discuss the cicadas. Lima’s lyrical narrative touches on the rags-to-riches themes found in art form, with lines like:

“We’ve been irrelevant / But everything’s about to change”

And the bugs are emerging as young adults, who are ready to party it up over the next six weeks, after all.

There’s a ton of educational value in Lima’s lines as well. He covers Macicicada’s genus and its three species: “Septendecula / Septendecim / And the smallest Cassini”

Lima then jumps into the five nymphal stages of Brood X’s life cycle — they start as eggs while waiting to become “Adults / Playing that super long game” when they will develop their “Fossorial front legs / That are used to excavate.”

They safely reside as rice grain-sized younglings while they get “All the nutrients I need / Are found beneath the trees / Where I was conceived.”

Once the soil temp hits 64 degrees at 8 inches below the surface, Brood X “Make my final ascent / To represent.” That’s when they’ll pour out of half-inch tunnels “Up in your Covid bubble / To sing with trillions of my friends / And cuddle.”

Hundreds of thousands of buzzing cicadas — who are just “shaking their money maker,” according to Lima — can reach over 100 decibels, in hopes of hearing wing clicks from cicada ladies because “That’s how I know we’re vibing.”

He even slides a pop culture reference, mentioning that “When my folks were doing what I’m doing now / Usher’s ‘Yeah’ was number one / And I was just a baby headed underground.”

When the next batch of bugs shows up in 2038, it’ll deem the chart-topping hit “Leave The Door Open” by Silk Sonic as an appropriate song to lead off their parents’ mood music.

Matthew Delaney

Matt Delaney is a digital web writer/editor who joined WTOP in 2020.

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