'Bon Appetit And Go For It!' Says Drexel U. Entomologist Isa Betancourt

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – After 17 years underground, millions upon millions of cicadas have begun to emerge across the region.

Soon enough, the noisy insects will be everywhere.

One entomologist is among those who see the emergence of the cicadas as a great gastronomic delicacy.

“They’re most edible when they first emerge from the ground. You can take them right from the tree, that’s when they’re nice and soft for the eating,” Isa Betancourt, entomologist with the Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University in Philadelphia told WCBS 880’s Steve Scott.

“I kind of see them as the shrimp of the land, so I prepare them how my family prepares shrimp,” Betancourt added.

This year, the activity is expected to spread from Georgia to New Hampshire, with parts of the New York Metro area seeing the largest numbers. People in northern New Jersey, Westchester and coastal Connecticut are expecting a noisy summer.

“Prepare them however you want. You can grill them and make kabobs with them, put them on your pizza,” Betancourt told Scott.

Others have promoted the idea of eating cicadas and there’s even a cicada cookbook created by the University of Maryland Cicadamaniacs.

LINK: Cicada Cookbook (pdf)

The male cicada’s mating call has been measured at 100 decibels, similar to the noise created by a subway train.

Betancourt said insects are a great way to spice up your dinnertime routine and try something new. Cicadas are said to be high in protein.

“Bon appetit and go for it!” said Betancourt.

If you’re intrigued by the idea, don’t delay – the cicadas will only be above ground for a month before burrowing for another 17 years.

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