A swarm of cicadas managed to delay the White House press corps’s flight to Europe for hours on Tuesday.
The press corps was set to fly from Washington, D.C., to Europe for President Joe Biden’s first overseas trip in office. But the noisy bugs found their way into the chartered plane’s engines — preventing it from taking off, a Delta spokesperson told The Washington Post and CBS News.
”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 White House reporter for the Associated Press, tweeted. “Yes. Cicadas.”
“You could say it was a flight delay 17 years in the making ... The Press Charter flight to Europe for @POTUS Biden’s travels was delayed last night by cicadas clogged in the engines,” CBS News’s Ed O’Keefe tweeted. “A plane swap-out ensued.”
A new plane was flown in from New York with a new pilot from Cleveland, The New York Times reports.
The flight, scheduled to take off around 9 p.m. ET was delayed more than six hours, CNN reports.
Biden is set to depart Wednesday for Europe, where he is scheduled to participate the G7, NATO and EU-U.S. summits. He’ll also host a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Watch out for the cicadas” he said to reporters before departing, after one landed on him.
The delayed flight comes as billions of Brood X cicadas, which emerge from underground every 17 years, have descended on parts of the U.S.
Brood X is the largest of the 17-year cicadas, according to the National Park Service.
“This brood is found in three separate areas centering around Pennsylvania and northern Virginia, Indiana and eastern Tennessee,” the park service says.
As many as 1.5 million cicadas can be found per acre where the brood resides, according to the Coastal Ecology Lab at the University of Georgia. And where they can be found, they make their presence known, as “male cicadas produce the loudest sounds in the insect world,” the NPS says.
The NPS expects Brood X to be gone by the end of June. But annual cicadas will stick around through August.