Kids Afraid of Bugs? How to Cope With the Impending Cicada Influx

Tip #1? Remind your kids that cicadas don't bite or sting

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They're back! Cicadas have emerged after hibernating for 17 years, and soon billions will be making their presence felt.

While it's exciting for some people, the sights and sounds coming from these red-eyed bugs can be frightening for a lot of people. News4's Doreen Gentzler joins us with advice for parents of kids who may be nervous about venturing outdoors.

"Five to 6% of adults and about 10% of children have these bug phobias," said Dr. Asha Patton-Smith, a child and adolescent psychiatrist with Kaiser Permanente.

She says even children who don't have a phobia may reluctant to go outside this time of year. Her advice to parents? Make it a teachable moment.

"Education is key and it can reduce anxiety; make it fun," she said.

Show your kids pictures and videos of the bugs and try educating them before they get up close and personal with the cicadas, if you can.

Patton-Smith says it's also important to separate facts from fear.

"Tell your kids that cicadas don't bite. They can be a nuisance, but there is nothing unsafe about them," she said.

You may remember the beady red eyes, the translucent wings or the constant noise: Seventeen years after Brood X cicadas headed underground, they're coming for the D.C. area again. News4's Megan McGrath talks to an expert about what to expect.

While most of us won't mind, the thought of hundreds of insects invading our parks and playgrounds can be scary, especially for young children.

"Red flags for things when to be concerned is if your kid's having significant anxiety, panic symptoms, not wanting to go out because they're concerned that something is going to happen to them with regard to the cicadas, not wanting to be interactive at all," Patton-Smith said.

Patton-Smith says parents should reach out to a pediatrician or mental health professional if they notice changes in their child's behavior.

While this is temporary, but the cicadas will be around for weeks and won't die off until June or July depending on the weather.

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