Cicada noise prompts a call to the police

Photo credit: Egor Kamelev

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

The headline of this article in Deseret News is: “Concerned citizens call South Carolina police over noisy…” Now let me add the last word: “cicadas.” Yes, complaint calls were made about loud insects, not people. However, noise is noise and residents compared the sounds of these cicadas to the sounds of sirens or loud roars. The cicadas indeed disturbed and annoyed the people of Newberry County, South Carolina.  

We learn in this article that after 13 to 17 years underground, the cicadas are now hatching. Interestingly, this spring is especially noisy because two broods are emerging, which generally does not happen. The last time two broods emerged was over 200 years ago, writer Margaret Darby said. We will have to wait another 21 years for this to happen again.

The sound of many cicadas is indeed loud. If these residents are living in a neighborhood with noisy aircraft overhead, they will notice that the cicadas make the sounds even louder. Darby included a video that allows the reader to listen to the sounds of cicadas. I strongly urge readers, especially those who have never heard these sounds before, to listen.

Despite the disturbance, the cicadas sounds are important because this is the way males attract female mates. So, I have to conclude that the residents exposed to these sounds will have to find a way to manage, especially since the cicadas will only be disturbing for a short period of time. I generally do not come to this conclusion when it comes to transportation noise, construction noise, loud music venues, sirens and neighbor noise.

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