Story at a glance

  • Cicadas flew into the engine of a charter plane set to fly dozens of journalists to Europe ahead of President Biden’s first overseas trip.
  • The plane was scheduled to depart at 9 p.m. but was delayed until at least 2:40 a.m. Wednesday.
  • Trillions of Brood X cicadas are swarming across the eastern U.S. this year.

A swarm of Brood X cicadas grounded a jetliner Tuesday and delayed dozens of White House reporters set to travel to Europe ahead of President Biden’s first trip overseas. 

The Washington Post reports the insects that have emerged after spending close to two decades underground flew into the engine of the airplane at Dulles International Airport, causing mechanical problems and preventing the plane from taking off. 


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The malfunction delayed the trip more than five hours as the airline had to obtain a new plane and captain for the flight, according to the Post. The plane was scheduled to depart at 9 p.m. but was delayed until at least 2:40 a.m. Wednesday.

“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,” Jonathan Lemire, a reporter for The Associated Press, said in a tweet Tuesday. 

“Yes. Cicadas,” he added. 

President Biden also had a run-in with the pesky insects Wednesday as he prepared to depart for Europe. 

Video shows Biden swipe at one of the bugs near his neck while he was standing outside at Joint Base Andrews. 

“Watch out for cicadas,” Biden told reporters. 

“I just got one. It got me,” he said. 

Trillions of Brood X cicadas are swarming across the eastern U.S. this year. The bugs live underground for 17 years before emerging to mate and lay eggs. 


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Published on Jun 09, 2021