Building Bridges with Bugs: Cicadas Make Noise at Tennessee Roadwork Sites

It seems that some cicadas have taken up jobs with humans as their noisy invasion of the South continues. This week, a road worker in Bedford County, Tennessee, was assisted in making repairs by dozens of bugs.

The image was shared on X, a social media site that was formerly known as Twitter, by Rebekah Hammonds, the community relations officer for Region 3 of the Tennessee Department of Relations. She stated that she would “hardly no” accept it.

Early this year, the 13-year periodical cicadas associated with Brood XIX and the 17-year periodical cicadas associated with Brood XIII appeared together for the first time since 1803, signaling the start of the cicada invasion.

Because the 17-year cycle brood doesn’t reside thus far south, Alabama’s invasion is less severe and resembles the emergence of a single brood.

Alabama saw the last emergence of Brood XIX in 2011. The insects are to be expected in places where a lot of insects usually congregate.

According to University of Alabama entomologist Dr. John Abbott, “In the thickest areas, they will literally be hanging from the trees and dropping off.” You won’t forget it if you are truly in the middle of things and witness it.

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And the tune they perform? According to Abbott, the Associated Press, that’s the males’ mating call, which can reach up to 110 dB. That noise level is comparable to nightclubs, rock concerts, or someone shouting right into your ear, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although cicadas can be an annoyance, according to Abbott, they don’t bite or sting people and don’t generally harm crops. After mating and the females laying eggs, they will all die in four to six weeks, and the cycle will resume itself in 2037.

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