11:02 AM PDT, June 9, 2021
A swarm of cicadas nearly made it aboard a flight carrying dozens of journalists destined for Europe to accompany President Biden’s first foreign trip on Tuesday night.
After a 17-year hiatus, a swarm of Brood X cicadas has been consuming the eastern part of the United States in recent weeks.
Takeoff was delayed due to “mechanical issues” after a cicada infestation clogged the plane’s engines. A new plane was flown into New York and optional hotels were provided for some journalists stuck near Dulles International Airport, The New York Times reported.
“The White House press charter, flying from Dulles to Europe ahead of President Biden, has been delayed for hours – due to mechanical issues caused by cicadas,” wrote the White House correspondent for the Associated Press. “Yes. Cicadas.”
Reporters were delivered the news about the incident by White House travel officials and were reassured that a new plane was heading to them, wrote a Times reporter who was aboard the flight.
The flight was operated by Delta Airlines and ultimately took off Wednesday morning, an airlines spokesperson confirmed to CBS News.
Cicada sightings began in early May and the swarms have only intensified since.
There are six known cicada species that live in the eastern United States and, this year, the Brood X species which lives on 17-year cycles have surfaced to begin breeding, the National Park Service said.
Cicadas feed on plant fluids both above and below ground and are harmless to humans, pets, and gardens.
But the Food and Drugs Administration says that cats or dogs that chow on cicadas might “temporarily cause an upset stomach or vomiting” from the insect’s exoskeleton.
“Cicadas don’t sting or bite. Cicadas are non-toxic,” the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine wrote last month.