Cicadas Screech in Central Virginia

June 4, 2013

For many people in central Virginia, the song of the cicadas is the soundtrack of the summer. It's a sound Albemarle County resident Kimberly Kohler can't seem to get away from.

"It's crazy. You can hear them inside, you can hear them in the morning, at night. When I'm laying in bed, I can hear them outside my window," said Kohler. "I go to sleep to them, wake up to them."

A trip to the local ice cream store couldn't keep her away from the buzz.

Outside the Kohr Bros Frozen Custard shop near I-64 and Route 250, cicadas are screeching. Employees say it has been a constant hum for about a month and a half.

"They're super loud. It just kind of sounds like a deafening roar. It's almost similar to being in a concert area," said employee Ariel Harris.

Her description could be spot on. We used iPhone app Decibel 10th to determine just how loud the cicadas were at the location Tuesday night around 7 p.m. and it compared the strength to loud singing, or about 80 decibels.

Harris says it's even louder earlier in the day, much to the dismay of customers and fellow employees.

"They're just so obnoxious and a constant, like, croaking," said Kohr Bros employee Kelly Shifflett.

Warmer weather means more customers for the custard shop. It also means cicadas are turning up the volume.

"Basically we can tell how hot it is by how loud the cicadas are," said Harris. "So, if the cicadas are louder, we get more customers."

Cicadas aren't evenly spread across central Virginia. Some areas have not been infested with the red-eyed bugs.

Albemarle County resident Karen Heuer has yet to spot a single cicada in her own backyard.

"So far I think I've been really lucky. I guess there's always that chance, but I'm hoping that I don't see any," she said.

Most cicadas appear in wooded areas, like the land surrounding Kohr Bros.

Kohler has been scoping out the best places to get away from the song.

"Where a pool is or a wider area -- especially over shopping areas -- it's not as loud, or you don't hear them at all," she said. "But definitely in the woods it's very loud."

Whether you love or hate the sound of the cicadas, don't get used to it. The average adult cicada lives just a few weeks.

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