News & Politics

These Illustrations Reimagine Cicadas as DC Tourists

Carlos Carmonamedina's latest series makes the Brood X invasion seem kind

Illustration courtesy Carlos Carmonamedina.

They’re on the escalators and waiting for trains. They’re pushing a stroller around the Wharf, catching a little shade in the Anthem’s marquee. They’re riding the Smithsonian Carousel and perambulating by the Castle. In the artist Carlos Carmonamedina’s latest illustrations, the cicadas of Brood X don’t feel like aliens burrowing from below—they’re just like tourists!

“I’m pretty sure that as many people hate them there’s also as many people who love them,” Carmonamedina says about the bugs, not human visitors. Carmonamedina has produced a weekly “postcard” from DC for five years. The Mexican-born artist moved here from France in 2016 and began documenting the everyday scenes that make up life here. Last year, when pandemic life was still relatively new, he reimagined some of his illustrations as free coloring pages.

The idea for the cicada series came from the District of Columbia subreddit, an internet space Carmonamedina says has “been very good for me.” He repurposed existing illustrations to include the every-17-years bugs, whose appearance, he says, may be gross but is undeniably part of life around Washington: “I think that’s pretty special,” he says. He’s somewhat on the fence about the bugs himself but notes his two-and-a-half-year-old daughter is fascinated by them.

Plus he says, unlike most tourists, the cicadas are from Washington, too. “These are just here—they have always been here,” he says. “A little bit of humor just lights things up.”

Limited-edition prints from Carmonamedina’s cicada series are available for $30 each


Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.