Forget about winter, something way louder is coming. It’s the 17-year cicada! These periodic cicadas crawl underground after hatching from their eggs, and live there for 17 years before emerging altogether to molt into their adult form. After molting (or shedding their old skin) the male cicadas are able to make a loud whiny chipping sound with their bodies that is used to attract a mate. The sound comes from an organ called a “tymbal” that the insect vibrates, and then echoes through its hollow abdomen. This noise is on average between 79.8 to 106.2 decibels, and North American cicadas can hit a pitch as high as 108.9 decibels (louder than the sound of a jet taking off)! In fact, it can be so loud that scientists and health officials are concerned that this year’s cicada season could actually be harmful to human ears. According to the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration, humans can only be exposed to 8 hours of sound at 90 decibels, and 2 hours at 100 decibels before it is considered unsafe. But don’t worry too much, only certain areas will be affected by this insect party, and even if you do find yourself surrounded by singing cicadas, just make sure you spend some time indoors with the windows closed and your headphones on.
Want to learn more? Visit https://motherboard.vice.com/read/cicada-calls-are-literally-deafening
May 9, 2016