Those Cicadas Can Sure Make Some Noise!


As an environmental consulting firm, one of our specialties is performing noise analysis and we look for every opportunity to perform sound measurements of interesting noise sources.

Our very own Lauren McMahon, CEP-IT has been performing noise measurements in her backyard since before the emergence of the 17-year cicadas. Lauren’s property is surrounded by mature woods near Patapsco Valley State Park in Ellicott City, Maryland. Straughan is interested in seeing what the ambient noise level was before the emergence of the cicadas and how the noise levels have changed over time with the cicadas under different weather conditions. Before the cicadas emerged, the average ambient sound level during the afternoon was around 45 dB(A). Preliminary data has shown that with the cicadas, sound levels have peaked around 90 dB(A) near the first week of June and the average sound level over a given 5-minute period was around 75 dB(A).

We plan to continue to observe the cicada noise levels through the emergence of the one-year cicadas later in the summer. Understanding how changing environmental factors, such as cicadas, affect ambient noise levels gives us a better understanding of the data that we collect when performing sound measurements for our projects.

Be on the lookout for more data and pictures!