Photographer stages a birthday, wedding, and rock concert with CICADAS

A bug’s life! Virginia photographer stages brilliant images with CICADAS – including a birthday party, a Las Vegas wedding, and even a rock concert – as rare Brood X swarms the US

  • Professional portrait photographer Oxana Ware, 39, said she finds cicadas ‘kind of creepy’ and her kids ‘hate’ them’
  • So she decided to ‘do something fun and silly with them’ in her backyard
  • She sets up elaborate scenes and puts live cicadas in them
  • Some of the cicadas have competed in mini Olympics, while others have traveled around the world 
  • ‘I’m very pleased I can help both adults and kids like cicadas more in a very careful, but playful way with nature,’ she said 

A Virginia photographer’s fascinating new photo series imagines cicadas as little people, setting them up in human-like scenes in which they get married, get vaccinated, and even climb snowy mountaintops.

Professional portrait photographer Oxana Ware, 39, noticed the insects in her backyard about three weeks ago and wanted to find a way to have fun with them.

‘I thought just photos of emerging cicadas were boring and my kids hated them, so I thought why not do something fun and silly with them?’ she said.

Bugging out: A Virginia photographer’s fascinating new photo series imagines cicadas as little people

Creative: Professional portrait photographer Oxana Ware, 39, noticed the insects in her backyard about three weeks ago and wanted to find a way to have fun with them

‘I thought just photos of emerging cicadas were boring and my kids hated them, so I thought why not do something fun and silly with them?’ she said

Chores: She has staged elaborate scenes for the cicadas, like this one hanging laundry to dry

Lightbulb moment: She first got the idea when she spotted the cicadas emerging one day, and began snapping them naturally — but she wasn’t won over by the results

‘Honestly, they still looked kind of creepy,’ she said. ‘My kids are kind of terrified by them too’

Oxana told WJLA she first got the idea when she spotted the cicadas emerging one day, and began snapping them naturally — but she wasn’t won over by the results.

‘Honestly, they still looked kind of creepy,’ she said. ‘My kids are kind of terrified by them too.’

Oxana has a two-year-old daughter named Catie, a four-year-old son named Ben, and a five-year-old daughter named Julia.   

‘So I [was] just going to go give them a ride on [my son’s toy firetruck] — I stuck one on the door and the cicada was just hanging on, just like waving hi — it was just very silly. 

‘My husband, who is an attorney, and had a very stressful day and he was just like looking over and was like smiling — here’s his wife just playing with cicadas on a firetruck.’

Soon her daughter Julia had joined in to help give the cicadas a beach party, and from there, Oxana got to work with more ideas. 

She set up scenes showing live bugs marrying in Las Vegas, graduating in the Class of 2021, riding motorcycles, and celebrating birthdays.

She made most of the elaborate sets from scratch and added props like an airplane, clothing drying on a line, the Statue of Liberty, and Big Ben.

One bug lifts weights, another pushes a shopping cart at CVS, while a third has a birthday cake.

‘It’s a creative exercise for me and to show my kids that you can create things out of whatever’s around you,’ she said. 

‘I just look around and I’m like, “Okay, there’s clay, two sticks, and a toilet paper roll. I’m going to make something out of that.’

‘A lot of times I have no idea what people want to see, but I do spend a little too much time thinking through the sets and just potential ideas, and then I just kind of group them into themes and then I will do an adventure based on a theme,’ she said.

‘Based on what resonates with me — and if I can do it right, it resonates with others.’ 

‘It’s a creative exercise for me and to show my kids that you can create things out of whatever’s around you,’ she said

Off they go! Some of her bugs boarded a plane to fly off on sight-seeing excursions

‘A lot of times I have no idea what people want to see, but I do spend a little too much time thinking through the sets and just potential ideas, and then I just kind of group them into themes and then I will do an adventure based on a theme,’ she said


Cross the Atlantic: They’ve hung from the Statue of Liberty in New York and Big Ben in London

All set! After the sets are built, Oxana carefully positions the cicadas into the scene, making sure to put them into positions they like


Props: Oxana used souvenirs from trips to Amsterdam and Berlin

‘I create the sets in a way with positions that I know they like to stay in, like hanging off of things,’ she said


Round the world: The traveling cicadas have been to Paris and Egypt

While the bugs are native to more eastern states, she sent them to San Francisco in this photo

Impressive: Shockingly, the cicadas are all alive in her photos


Lucky: While many real-life boarders are still closed, they’ve been to Moscow and Greece

Presidential bugs: They’ve evens at atop a mini Mt. Rushmore

‘The whole point of it is to just have fun and be creative with my kids and that’s what we do,’ she said

She added: ‘There’s been some criticism like, “Oh, she should have more professional setups,” but the whole point of it is to just have fun and be creative with my kids and that’s what we do.’ 

After the sets are built, Oxana carefully positions the cicadas into the scene, making sure to put them into positions they like.

‘I create the sets in a way with positions that I know they like to stay in, like hanging off of things,’ she said.

In one photo, three cicadas hang from a paper Christmas tree, each with its own Santa hat. 

In yet another, a cicada films a TikTok — or rather, CikTok — video. 

Perhaps the most shocking thing, though, is that the cicadas have all been alive during their photoshoots. 

‘Now they go about their business and fly off too much, but some of them are still compliant. I have to go through quite a few in order to form my cast for the day, because most of them don’t want to have anything to do with it anymore,’ she said. 

While her cicada photos have been a hit, Oxana doesn’t know if she’ll continue the sets with other bugs.

Sporty: For another series, she staged a mini cicada Olympics, complete with table tennis

So strong: Another cicada tried its hands (or legs?) at weightlifting

Woosh! One more nailed the pole vault at the Summer Olympics 

He shoots! This cicada is competing in archery

Going for the gold! Another bug seems hopeful to compete in gymnastics

Gone fishin’! For once, bugs are doing the fishing — and they’re not the bait

‘I’ve been neglecting my real work for too long, just building sets for cicadas,’ she said.

Having moved to the area 16 years ago, Oxana missed the once-every-17-years Brood X last time they emerged, but is glad that she got to experience them this time and use them to bring people joy.

‘People asked me why I started doing this, and I love the simple things in life. I’m the backyard photographer and I don’t have to go far to have fun with nature,’ she said.

‘I’m very pleased I can help both adults and kids like cicadas more in a very careful, but playful way with nature,’ she said.

Usually, Oxana sticks to newborn, studio, lifestyle, and family photography, but occasionally does wildlife photography as well. 

US chef serves up sustainable ‘Brood X’ delicacy 

After 17 years underground, swarms of cicadas are emerging across the eastern United States — and for one Washington chef, the rare bug invasion was his cue for a cookout, with a side of food ethics.

Bun Lai, an advocate for the sustainable food movement, invited locals for an insect hunt in a city park followed by a taste of his fried cicada sushi.

‘In a world where we’re suffering from the biggest pandemic in history — which is not Covid, but diet-related diseases — we’re going to have to take a revolutionary approach to how we’re used to eating,’ he said.

Over the weekend, the Hong Kong-born American chef showed residents how to harvest, cook and prepare cicadas as a way to talk about alternative methods of farming and eating.

Chef Bun Lai seasons cicadas with salt as he fries them at Fort Totten Park in Washington

The group collected cicadas and edible greens from around the park

Billions of Brood X cicadas are appearing in US states including Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Indiana, and Tennessee.

Using his Instagram and Twitter accounts, Bun announced when he would be catching and cooking a few — and then sharing them free of charge.

‘Free cicada hunt and cookout,’ Bun tweeted. ‘Bring ingredients to cook with and join me in getting creative or just eat!’

For those who answered the call, the culinary adventure began by collecting some of the tastiest-looking bugs.

Stella Roque, a 36-year-old who grew up with a fear of insects, was not overly eager, but she viewed it as a way to overcome her phobia.

‘I’m here today because Bun Lai invited me to try cooked cicadas, and I thought it was going to be an interesting experience,’ she said.

Cicadas are fried as they are prepared for the sushi recipe

Ready for tasting: fried cicadas in a sushi roll

‘I decided to come along, given that I had heard about the whole cicada apocalypse happening in the area.’

And she’s not alone in trying some creepy-crawly cuisine. Cicada tacos are popular menu items in restaurants just now, according to The Washingtonian magazine.   

However, Bun cautioned against cicadas becoming a ‘gourmet food,’ fearing they could even be ‘eaten away like we have with so many species that we’ve become obsessed with over time.’

The group collected cicadas and edible greens from around the park under Bun’s guidance. The cicadas were then placed in a jar near other fresh ingredients beside a charcoal fire.

The chef seasoned the cicadas with salt before frying them in a large skillet. Finally, the fried insects were rolled into sushi, getting wrapped in large leaves with rice and vegetables, before being served.

Roque, expecting the worst, said she was in fact ‘delightfully surprised.’

‘I was actually terrified when holding it in my hand,’ she said. ‘But… it was actually really tasty.’

Source: AFP

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