A New Jersey couple whose yard was overrun with cicadas 17 years ago and appeared on NBC 4 New York with the creepy critters says this time around, they don't expect to be bothered by the bugs.
Carol Mendalski, 75, was interviewed by NBC 4 New York reporter Pat Battle at her Scotch Plains home in 1996, the last time the cicadas emerged from underground. Battle noted at the time to viewers that they wouldn't have to worry about cicadas again until the far-off year 2013.
Cicadas feed for years off tree saps and emerge when the soil reaches 64 degrees.
The pesky pests are harmless to people and plant life and only live for two to four weeks, entomologists say. But many northeast residents are dreading the return of the black bugs, identifiable by their bulging red eyes, orange-hued wings and loud, persistent mating call.
"They're disgusting, basically," Mendalski told NBC 4 New York during the infestation 17 years ago. Their mating call is "deafening," she said.
Her husband, Gene, playfully reminded her at the time that the bugs are friendly, and don't hurt anyone. But she still did her best to avoid them.
When NBC 4 New York caught up with the Mendalskis this week, the couple said they sold their Scotch Plains home in 2005 and moved to a retirement community in Manchester, N.J.
Carol Mendalski said she hoped the new neighborhood, which began construction two years after the latest cicada outbreak, will be free of the noisy bugs.
Dr. George Hamilton, an entomologist at Rutgers University, said Mendalski probably doesn’t have anything to worry about, saying it’s unlikely any cicadas would emerge in a new development built after the last brood.
"When you remove that tree, you remove that food source," Hamilton said. "The cicadas go locally extinct in that area."
Whatever happens with the bugs, Mendalski says she’s happy in her new home – and she doesn’t plan to flee if the bugs emerge, as she vowed 17 years ago she would do upon their return.
"I'm not thinking about cicadas," she said.