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President Joe Biden was forced to swat a large cicada from his neck as he boarded Air Force One for his first foreign trip as president after the insects grounded his press plane en route to G7.
“Watch out for the Cicadas. One just got me,” the president jokingly warned reporters following his close contact with the bug as he went to board the aircraft.
The humourous incident comes after the president’s press plane was brought to a dramatic halt yesterday by the pesky insects after a horde of Brood X cicadas grounded the aircraft for five hours.
Realistically the bugs pose nothing more than a nuisance, as the cicadas don’t harm humans. However, on Tuesday the press plane was “delayed for hours” due to the bugs.
“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,” Associated Press reporter Jonathan Lemire reported in a tweet.
“Yes. Cicadas,” he added in apparent disbelief. The red-eyed bugs operate either on an annual or 13 or 17-year cycle in a bid to avoid predators.
CNN’s Chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins seconded the reports, insisting that Mr Lemire was not “kidding”.
“The White House press charter for the foreign trip is delayed several hours because of cicada-related mechanical issues,” she said.
The delay comes ahead of Mr Biden’s trip to Europe this week where he is slated to attend a meeting with the Group of Seven, a NATO summit, and a meeting with European Union chiefs.
This year, trillions of the harmless bugs in Brood X, have emerged from underground after 17 years of hibernation, and have been stirring up mayhem across 15 states.
The Washington Post said that reporters were informed by a White House aide that the insects had flown into the engine and a new plane and captain needed to be found, delaying them for more than five hours.
A spokeswoman for Delta confirmed to the newspaper that cicadas inside the engines had prevented the plane from taking off.
“I’m gonna remember this never-ending flight delay 17 years from now, cicadas,” CNN’s Phil Mattingly joked. The flight, scheduled to leave at 9pm, only eventually got off the ground at 2.40am.
It’s not the first time the winged foes have disturbed the Washington press corps as earlier this month one of the bugs was filmed crawling onto CNN journalist Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.
The insects’ loud mating calls to attract females have also provoked frustration across the country, with Americans being asked to stop calling the police on the insects.
Once the horde has reproduced, they die off, with experts predicting they’ll be gone by around 4 July, much to the relief of White House journalists it seems.