Cicada vs Drone: The Epic Aerial War Coming to US Drone Pilots this Summer


It appears that the days of worrying about hitting birds and powerlines with your drone are about to be further complicated.

Those who are old enough will certainly remember the last brood of giant, buzzing cicadas that emerged in their region. Cicadas emerge in ‘broods’ that have 13 or 17 year time horizons, which dictate their size, population, and region of emergence.

In the Northeastern United States, trillions of periodical cicadas known as ‘Brood X’ are set to emerge in more than 15 states in 2021 including Pennsylvania, New York, and Delaware. Brood X will appear as far north as Wisconsin, and as far south as Georgia. The full list of states that will be inundated by these clumsy fliers are as follows:

Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington DC.

What remains to be seen, however, is just what this brood is going to mean for the hundreds of thousands of drone pilots who will likely be doing battle with Brood X this summer.

That’s right, these clumsy, gigantic bugs will emerge in the trillions and will be liable to drift right into your propellers; exploding and possibly damaging the motor or the blade itself. If you’re unlucky enough to be over water or a less than comfortable landing spot for your drone, you might find one of these cicadas could send your drone spiraling towards the ground.

The good news is that this brood will begin to die off July, so the window for causing damage is relatively narrow. However, for pilots looking to capture some of the Covid reopenings and warm weather in May/June: flier beware.