USA TODAY -- Cicadas are slowly emerging along the East Coast, crawling out from the earth after 17 years underground.
Experts don't know exactly how many of the 1-inch bugs will be invading the states from North Carolina to Connecticut, but 30 billion seems like a good estimate.
The bugs in this year's batch, labeled brood II, have basically been living under a rock since 1996. Here's a look at 10 things they've missed:
1. Social media. The cicadas crawling out of the ground may be surprised to find photos of themselves all over Twitter and Facebook as smartphones have made it easier than ever to share with friends, family and, well, everyone else in the world. Photos of the red-eyed buggers are already popping up on social-media sites and making their way into the news. Now, the question is whether our buggy little pals will join Facebook and try to friend us or post their selfies to Instagram.
2. O.J. Simpson. The insects emerging in the past week may be a little confused to see O.J. Simpson back in court. Wasn't he acquitted in the "trial of the century" in 1995 for the slashing deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and a friend, Ron Goldman? Well, yes, but he was arrested, convicted and sentenced to nine to 33 years in prison for armed robbery and kidnapping of sports memorabilia dealers during a bizarre and disputed confrontation in 2007. Simpson once again took the stand this week, this time in a long-shot bid to win a new trial.
3. Internet. If the insects buzz on over to the Drudge Report, they might wonder for a moment why the Internet hasn't changed much since 1996. But a quick look elsewhere, including at USA TODAY's redesigned website (shameless plug, I know), will show a vastly different interwebs, as we youngsters call it, than they used to know. Of course, the explosion of cat photos, videos and BuzzFeed articles on our feline friends may also lead them to believe that Al Gore sold the Internet to cats.
One thing the bugs won't be happy about: the ease at which users can find recipes online for cicada delicacies and concoctions. Cicada tacos, anyone?
4. Reality TV. Cicadas hooked on The Real World may be surprised to find the show is still running, now in its 28th season on MTV. And since 1996, the reality TV scene has exploded, and the bugs will find a wide variety of programs they can feast on from Dancing With the Stars and American Idol to Keeping up with the Kardashians and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.
As some reality shows, such as American Idol and The Bachelor, have seen their ratings decline, the bugs have got to wonder: Will these shows still be around when their kids emerge from the ground in 2030?
5. Baseball. Among the die-hard Red Sox fans, brood II's insects may be surprised to find the Boston team finally broke the Curse of the Bambino, not once but twice, while they were underground in 2004 and 2007. But not all teams have been as lucky: The Chicago Cubs are still without a World Series win since 1908.
Speaking of the Cubs, the cicada fans of Chicago's Sammy Sosa and the St. Louis Cardinals' Mark McGwire may be dismayed when they find out that not only did they miss the sluggers' infamous duel for the home run record in 1998 (McGwire won with 70 homers that season), but the two baseball superstars have been tainted amid suspicions their accomplishments were boosted by performance-enhancing drugs. In 2010, McGwire admitted to using steroids off and on during his career, including when he broke baseball's home run record. In 2009, The New York Times reported that Sosa was among those who tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug in MLB's 2003 anonymous survey. (Three years after McGwire set his record, it was stretched to 73 home runs by the San Francisco Giants' Barry Bonds, who also was tied to the PED scandal.)
While the bugs missed Miguel Cabrera's Triple Crown win last year - the first MLB Triple Crown winner since 1967 - horse racing's Triple Crown remains elusive, with no horse winning all three races since Affirmed in 1978.
6. Google. Back in 1996, the search engine was just a project called BackRub started by two computer-science grad students at Stanford. Too bad the bugs weren't able to buy any stock before they went underground - the company didn't offer its initial public offering until 2004. What started out as an $85-per-share investment has now shot up to more than $900 per share.
7. Lottery. Players across the nation were looking for a big payday this week as Powerball and Mega Millions competed for attention with two large jackpots. Two winning tickets were sold in Friday's $190 million Mega Million jackpot, and many likely awaited Saturday's Powerball drawing - with a $600 million top prize that could climb - with bated breath.
Who knows, maybe some of this year's early cicadas were able to get in on the action and were surprised at how much the lotto scene has changed since 1996. Of the two big lotteries today - Powerball and Mega Millions - only Powerball was in existence 17 years ago. While Powerball's predecessor, Lotto* America, began in 1988, it wasn't until September 1996 that the first jackpot for The Big Game - a whopping $5 million - was awarded. The lottery was later renamed Mega Millions, and went on to set a record for the largest lottery prize ever of $656 million in March 2012.
8. Space. Our 17-year visitors will find they missed a lot of celestial news, starting with one fewer planet in our solar system: Pluto was ousted in 2006 after being downgraded to a dwarf planet. Meanwhile, if the cicadas are looking for a new place to live, Mars has gained popularity, with 78,000 people applying to become colonists through a non-profit organization called Mars One. The group's goal is to land four people on Mars in 2023 to start a permanent colony, with more arriving every two years thereafter.
9. Investing. While brood II's parents earned 15.9% a year on their investments in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index, and 13.7% annually on the Nasdaq 100 index, the kids emerging today may be a little disappointed in their portfolios. Their 17-year average annual returns were down to 7.3% in the S&P 500 and 6.2% on the Nasdaq.
Fortunately for Brood II, their retirement is just a few weeks away. And they experienced a bit less inflation over their 17 years than their parents did. Inflation has averaged 2.4% a year for the past 17 years, vs. 4.8% for 1979-1996.
10. Tiger Woods. Just making his pro golf debut in 1996, Tiger Woods may have looked like he'd have a promising career, but it would have been hard to predict just how good. Today's cicadas would have missed his first PGA Tour win at the Las Vegas Invitational in October 1996, where he finished 27 under par. Today, Woods ranks as the top golfer in the world, with 78 PGA Tour victories to his name.
Still harder to predict would have been the scandal that broke in 2009 after The National Enquirer published a story alleging Woods was having an affair with a New York nightclub hostess. Just two days after the report, Tiger Woods crashed his Cadillac Escalade SUV into a tree and a fire hydrant while driving erratically outside his Florida home. The crash caused more than $3,200 in property damage. Two weeks after the accident, Woods posted a statement on his website admitting he had been unfaithful to his wife, Elin, and shocked the sports world by announcing he was taking an indefinite break from golf to try to mend his family life.
After a few weeks up in the trees, this batch of cicadas will die off, but not before breeding and sending their offspring underground, from which they will emerge in 2030. Which makes us wonder: What in the world will the world look like then?