They’re coming and police are asking people to stop calling 911 over loud noises – it’s cicadas

ATLANTA — The emergence of billions of cicadas is upon us and in some parts of the Southeast, cicadas are already starting to appear.

Some law enforcement agencies are asking people to keep in mind the loud noises that they make. It’s nothing crazy – just the bizarre-looking insects.

In a Facebook post by the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office in South Carolina, which is about an hour from the Georgia border, is asking people to stop calling police over “a noise in the air that sounds like a siren, or a whine, or a roar.”

Cicadas are harmless insects that spend most of their lives underground. They wait for the soil temperature to reach 64 degrees to emerge.

But they are noisy and the sheer numbers and the noise they generate can reach 107 decibels. That’s about the same intensity as a lawn mower.

“Literally in somebody’s yard there’s thousands and thousands of them all singing to attract a mate at the same time,” said University of North Georgia biology professor Evan Lampert.

They typically begin to emerge in mid-May and will stick around through June.


“It’s deafening. Whether you’re in the yard, on the deck -- upper or lower -- you just have to scream above them,” Georgia resident Robin Howells told Channel 2′s Berndt Petersen in a previous report about cicadas.

Jammie Murphy with the UGA extension said the cicadas are most active from dawn until dusk, which is when most of the 911 calls come into dispatch.

“It’s very possible for somebody to mistake it for a fire alarm or a house alarm going off,” Murphy said.

What makes this year’s emergence unique is that in some parts of the country, there will be two broods of cicadas emerging for the first time in more than 200 years. That won’t happen again until 2245.

Georgia and the Southeast will see the 13-year brood, also known as the Great Southern brood. They will emerge for the first time since 2011. This will be the largest of the groups of cicadas.

They are expected to appear around Mother’s Day on May 12.

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