Cicadas: They're just like us?
A photographer in Northern Virginia is having some fun with the emergence of the Brood X cicadas — and helping people reframe their fears — by making elaborate, detailed bug-scapes.
Each photo stages the bugs in a very human scene, including flaunting a COVID-19 vaccine card, grilling and shopping.
Photos: Virginia Photographer Stages Cicadas in Human Scenes
Oxana Ware usually photographs newborns and families — human ones, she points out. But what started out as a fun game with her kids has turned into a hobby that has her thrilled about billions of Brood X cicadas emerging.
“I wanted to just do something silly and playful with them,” Ware said. “Trying to welcome them into our backyard.”
Her son wanted to pose the bugs on a fire truck. Her daughter suggested a beach. Ware's kids were more excited about the cicadas than toys at the store.
Then her instincts for staging human photos kicked in, and now Ware is bubbling over with ideas for new cicada-scapes.
If you live in one of the 15 states plus D.C. where Brood X is emerging, cicadas are probably on your mind. And Ware quickly found an audience to enjoy the whimsical view of the bugs.
“I started going all out,” Ware said. “It just, like, exploded.”
She got hundreds of likes and comments — and neighbors even started leaving props on her doorstep, including a small UFO model.
Ware uses a macro lens to capture the bugs in fine detail. The cicadas’ six legs, bulging red eyes and delicate wings are on prominent display.
“When you magnify things, you see the insects aren’t just little black blobs. You see this iridescent thing… they’re kind of cool,” she said.
Learning how to pose the cicadas was a major hurdle and not every shoot was successful. She admits several cicadas have flown straight into her face.
Ware now knows the cicadas don’t like being upside down but become tolerant photography subjects if they can hang onto a prop and get comfortable. She tries to be gentle.
After all, she says, "they're cute."
Ware says her own tolerance for insects is high. However, others have said she helps them cope with their fears, by showing cicadas in as more than just creepy crawlies.
“They are just like us,” Ware said. “They’re like, clueless, they just stumble around, I just want them to enjoy their very short lives.”
And after a year of pandemic stress and being stuck inside, it’s probably for the best to see the cicadas not as pests, but temporary (if noisy) neighbors.
"I mean, they’re coming, right? There’s no way you’re not going to have to deal with them," Ware said. "Embrace it and enjoy it and find something fun about it."