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Scientists Predict Extra-Loud Spring Cicada Season

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Might want to invest in some earplugs this year.

I’ve heard people say that the sounds of crickets and cicadas in the warm seasons are relaxing, especially at night. To this, I suggest living in a rural neighborhood and trying to sleep at night with the window open. The collective noise of the insect kingdom is irritating on a good night, agonizing on a bad one. As if trying to sleep among the screeching wings isn’t bad enough normally, according to zoologists, we’re gonna be in for one noisy cicada season this year.

According to Dr. Jessica Ware, an associate curator of invertebrate zoology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, this year’s clutch of cicada hatchlings are poised to be some of rowdiest and noisiest we’ve had in, well, precisely 17 years. Every spring season, cicadas crawl out of their hidey holes in the ground, shed their skins, and begin humming as they search for food and mates. Every 17 years, though, the warming spring soil reaches a very precise temperature, hatching the periodic species of cicadas alongside the usual seasonal ones. This means exponentially more cicadas will hatch at once, multiplying their noise a hundredfold. This brood of cicadas is known as “Brood X,” and according to Dr. Ware, Brood X is hatching on May 13 around the middle part of the eastern United States.

“May is going to be a loud month, for sure, for cicadas,” said Ware. “It’s kind of exciting to think about Brood X emerging because the last time these individuals were above ground was in 2004. And so when you think about – a lot’s happened in the last 17 years.”

Thankfully, the Brood X cicadas are harmless to humans, though they do provide an increased source of nourishment for local birds. So while May won’t be dangerous, it will be very loud, annoying, and covered in bird poop. I guess now we’ll see how “relaxing” everyone finds that noise.