Cicada Mating Calls Mistaken for Sirens and Roars in South Carolina

Residents in South Carolina inundating police with calls about loud noises, mistaking cicada mating calls for sirens. Sheriff assures it's just nature's sounds, no danger.

Nimrah Khatoon
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Cicada Mating Calls Mistaken for Sirens and Roars in South Carolina

Cicada Mating Calls Mistaken for Sirens and Roars in South Carolina

Residents in Newberry County, South Carolina have been inundating the sheriff's office with calls about loud noises, mistaking the mating calls of trillions of emerging periodical cicadas for sirens or roars. The red-eyed insects are surfacing from underground in the eastern United States this month after lying dormant for 13 or 17 years, depending on the brood.

The Newberry County Sheriff's Office issued a statement to allay concerns, explaining that the whining sound is simply the male cicadas singing to attract mates. "It's just the sounds of nature. They pose no danger to humans or pets," the sheriff's office assured. However, the collective songs of the cicadas can reach volumes as high as jet engines, proving quite an annoyance to some residents.

Scientists who study cicadas often wear earmuffs to protect their hearing from the deafening chorus. The significant noise typically starts about 10 days after the cicadas first emerge and lasts for approximately 2 weeks. "The cicadas, which emerge in 13 or 17 year cycles, can produce collective songs as loud as jet engines," the sheriff's office statement noted.

Calls have been coming in from various locations across Newberry County as the noisiest cicadas move around. Some concerned residents have even flagged down deputies to inquire about the mysterious sounds. "While the noise may be annoying to some, the cicadas pose no danger to humans or pets, and it is simply the 'sounds of nature,'" the sheriff's office reiterated.

Why this matters: The emergence of periodical cicadas in such massive numbers is a rare event that captures public attention. Beyond the noise nuisance, these insects play a vital role in the ecosystem and their life cycle is a fascinating example of evolutionary adaptation.

Sheriff Lee Foster emphasized in the statement that the cicadas' presence, while bothersome to some, is a natural occurrence marking the end of their long dormancy. The sheriff's office continues to field calls as the cicadas' movement results in the localized din of their mating calls. Residents are encouraged to understand that this phenomenon, although startling, is a fleeting inconvenience as the cicadas complete their life cycle in the coming weeks.

Key Takeaways

  • Residents in SC mistook cicada mating calls for sirens, calling police.
  • Cicadas emerge every 13-17 years, producing deafening collective songs.
  • Sheriff's office assured residents the cicadas pose no danger, just nature.
  • Cicadas' emergence is a rare event with ecological significance.
  • Residents encouraged to understand this temporary inconvenience of nature.