WASHINGTON (AP) — The cicadas were flying. The reporters hoping to join the president in Europe were not.
Reporters traveling to the United Kingdom for President Joe Biden's first overseas trip were delayed seven hours after their chartered plane was overrun by cicadas.
The Washington, D.C., area is among the many parts of the country that have been swarmed by Brood X cicadas, a large emergence of the loud 17-year insects that take to dive-bombing onto moving vehicles and unsuspecting passersby.
Even Biden wasn’t spared. The president brushed a cicada from the back of his neck as he chatted with his Air Force greeter after arriving at Joint Base Andrews for Wednesday’s flight.
“Watch out for the cicadas,” Biden then told reporters. “I just got one. It just got me.”
It was unclear how cicadas disrupted the mechanics of the press plane. Weather and crew rest issues also contributed to the flight delay late Tuesday. Ultimately, the plane was swapped for another one, and the flight took off shortly after 4 a.m. on Wednesday.
This is not the first time the cicadas have caused havoc for a presidential event or been political fodder.
In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt, known for a booming voice, was nearly drowned out in an address at Arlington National Cemetery.
Eighty-five years later — five cicada cycles — President Ronald Reagan in a radio address talked about how Washington was overrun and compared the harmless flying insects to big spenders.
“I think most everyone would agree, things will be much more pleasant when the cicadas go back underground,” Reagan said.
In a 2004 attack ad, Republicans attacked Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, now Biden's special climate adviser, by comparing him to noisy cicadas that disappear.
The press plane is arranged with the assistance of the White House and carries journalists at their expense. There was not expected to be any impact on news coverage of Biden's visit.