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Science & Technology

Go Back In Time To The Last Appearance Of The Brood X Cicadas

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Brood X is coming. One of the world's largest swarms of cicadas is getting ready to emerge out of the ground after 17 years, patiently waiting to arise and spawn the next generation. They will appear mainly in the mid-Atlantic and southeastern parts of the United States, with Washington, D.C., considered ground zero. Ugh. 2004 was the last time these red-eyed, 1-to-2-inch-long bugs with the deafening clatter showed up. That's when NPR's Peter Breslow and Jessica Goldstein turned on a tape recorder as their twin daughters, Eden and Danielle, listened to the cicadas from a splash pool in their backyard.

(SOUNDBITE OF CICADAS BUZZING)

PETER BRESLOW, BYLINE: Today is May 23, 2004. You girls are 4 years old, and the cicadas are out for the first time in 17 years.

EDEN BRESLOW: Cicadas.

P BRESLOW: What does he look like?

E BRESLOW: He has red eyes and black head and yellow wings.

DANIELLE BRESLOW: Wings.

E BRESLOW: Oy, I'm getting up.

(LAUGHTER)

E BRESLOW: Hey.

(LAUGHTER)

E BRESLOW: Don't do that.

(SOUNDBITE OF WATER SPLASHING)

JESSICA GOLDSTEIN, BYLINE: When you hear the cicadas again...

D BRESLOW: What?

GOLDSTEIN: ...You will be how old?

E BRESLOW: Grown-ups.

GOLDSTEIN: You'll be 21.

(SOUNDBITE OF WATER SPLASHING)

D BRESLOW: Whoa.

GOLDSTEIN: Girls, what do you think you're going to be doing when you're 21 years old?

D BRESLOW: We are going to be going to work.

GOLDSTEIN: Where...

P BRESLOW: Where are you going to work?

D BRESLOW: Where you work.

P BRESLOW: You're going to work where we work?

E BRESLOW: Yeah.

P BRESLOW: NPR News?

EDEN BRESLOW AND DANIELLE BRESLOW: Yeah.

GOLDSTEIN: You want to be journalists and write stories?

E BRESLOW: What's journalists means?

GOLDSTEIN: You get to work on fun stories.

P BRESLOW: Eden, you have chocolate and boogers all over your face.

GOLDSTEIN: (Laughter).

E BRESLOW: Oh, my God.

D BRESLOW: Daddy, all those cicadas up there are flying away.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's NPR's Peter Breslow and Jessica Goldstein with their daughters back in 2004. Now flash forward 17 years.

D BRESLOW: This is Danielle Breslow. I'm 21 years old. I go to Colorado College, and I'm studying political science.

E BRESLOW: And I'm Eden Breslow. I'm also 21 years old. I go to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and I'm a junior studying strategic communication.

P BRESLOW: Girls, do you remember that day at all when we recorded the cicadas?

E BRESLOW: No, I do not, but I remember the sounds they made.

D BRESLOW: I remember the shells all around, and we were trying to collect them. It was gross, looking back at it now (laughter) but very cool.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHILDREN LAUGHING) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.