Cicadas Heard Loud And Clear In Middle Tennessee - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Cicadas Heard Loud And Clear In Middle Tennessee


By Chris Cannon

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The cooler temperatures earlier this week will kept the 13-year cicadas quiet. But as warmer weather moved into Middle Tennessee, the sound of those cicadas got much louder.

"It's just a high-pitched whine. Annoying," explained audio expert Dario Cerajioli from BSA Nashville.

Cerajioli took his sound meter outside to see just how high the hum of the cicadas would register.

"It's about 82 dB," Cerajioli said.

That is compared to the 30 dB you would find inside a library. Normal conversation is usually recorded at 65 dB. With the sound of cicadas at 80 dB, their noise is only a touch more quiet than city traffic which registered at 85 dB.

Belmont University professor Dr. Steve Murphree is a cicada expert. He spoke this week at the Adventure Science Center's monthly Science Cafe at Fido in Hillsboro Village.

Dr. Murphree explained the noise is produced by male cicadas as their mating call.

"What they're going to do is fly to a tree where there are a lot of other males calling and that will bring in females," according to Dr. Murphree.

The temperature greatly affects the amount of noise the male cicada will make.

"So when they have a cold body temperature like they've had for the past few days, they're not very active, and rain also limits what they're doing, as well," Dr. Murphree said.

Even the sun going behind the clouds can cut down on the amount of noise coming from the cicadas.

"It's pretty dramatic. Even if the temperature is about the same, when you get under cloud cover they'll calm down a bit," Dr. Murphree explained.

That colder weather will most likely keep the cicadas in Middle Tennessee longer than expected. Originally they were predicted to be gone by the end of May. They may spend several extra weeks making noise.

"Certainly by mid-June, maybe even the third week of June, we'll hear the last of them," said Dr. Murphree.

Apparently Middle Tennesseans are the only people in the state who will experience this brood of cicada. Residents in both East and West Tennessee will not hear the sound of the cicada. Dr. Murphree said even parts of mid-state could miss out on them.  He said the farther north you go toward the Kentucky border, the less noise you will hear.


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