Flashback: Matt Lauer survives cicada invasion of 1996

Cicadas are starting to emerge from their underground dwellings across the Northeast — maybe you fear them, or maybe you can’t wait for their sci-fi-like invasion.

If you’re in the former camp, here’s some good news: Matt Lauer clearly survived the last time around. He covered the story as a local NBC anchor in New York City 17 years ago, the last time cicadas left their burrows to screech, mate and, well, die.

In the vintage clip above from 1996, Pat Battle interviews a New Jersey couple that doesn’t agree on how much of a nuisance the 2-inch insects are.

“It’s a friendly insect, it doesn’t harm you,” Gene Mendalski says.

But his wife, Carol, calls them “disgusting, basically” and says she’ll get the heck out of town next time around: “I think in 17 years, if I’m still alive and I’m still here, I will go elsewhere on vacation.”

And here we are again. This week, NBC 4 New York caught up with the couple, who has since moved to a retirement community in Manchester, N.J. Carol is hopeful that the new neighborhood won’t be affected by the bugs, since it was constructed two years after the last outbreak.

But all in all, she has a mellower take on things after surviving her first cicada season: “I’m not thinking about cicadas,” she said.

At the end of the 1996 broadcast, Lauer makes a good point: Love ‘em or loathe ‘em, it’s all a matter of perspective.

"They’d be a lot more welcome in Japan, where they’re considered a delicacy, preferably stir fried,” he says.


Looking for ways to get crafty during the cicada invasion? Take a look at several ingenious uses for these screeching insects, from jewelry to bug soup.