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How Many Weddings Will the Cicadas Ruin This Summer?

Late spring is when the 17 year cicadas come out. It also happens to be a popular time for weddings

As the spring warms the earth in the eastern United States, one of the largest insect emergences on the planet is about to happen. Seventeen years after their last appearance, cicadas from this brood will wiggle out from the ground, shed their skin and take to the skies. This is what that looks like (GIF by T. Nathan Mundhenk):

Late spring also happens to be a popular time for weddings. According to Wedding Business Today, the most popular wedding month is June, when 15 percent of the approximately 2.3 million weddings that happen every year in the United States take place. That’s 345,000 weddings that month alone. Even if only fraction of them happen in cicada territory, that’s still thousands of weddings at risk for cicadas on their wedding day.

In fact, the most common question that Cicada Mania gets is about weddings. They have a few suggestions for avoiding or dealing with the bugs. First, they say you should try the “cicada emergence formula” to see if the cicadas are in fact emerging on your big day. All you do is plug in the Average Mean Temperature in Celsius in April for your area. So wedding goers in Central Park should see cicadas on May 15th.

If cicadas are going to rain on your parade, here’s what you might expect, according to the Cicada Wedding Planner:

1. The bodies of dead cicadas littering the ground.
2. The constant hum of cicada song.
3. An occasional cicada landing on a guest. Guests screaming.
4. An occasional cicada crawling on a table, chair, barbecue.

They say to rent a hall or a tent to keep the insects from literally raining on you. Bagpipes are good for drowning out cicadas, they write, and keeping the food covered until it’s eating time is a good idea. And relax, they say: “Like rain, there’s not much you can do about it. If the property is full of cicadas, get set for some hilarious pictures.”

Bloomberg’s Constance Casey argues that wedding goers should stop complaining and appreciate the bugs:

The main point is, however, how about a little awe? It’s a long time to wait to come up into the light. These insects spend 17 years as little wingless nymphs, feeding on tree roots — a dark and quiet life. Their only tasks are to grow bigger and bigger with successive molts, and to count. How, speaking of awe, do they count?

If you’re not convinced that cicadas on your wedding could be awesome, here’s a video for you:

More from Smithsonian.com:

The Cicadas are Coming, And So Are the Terrifying Spores That Eat Them Alive
After 17 Years, the Northeast Is About to Be Blanketed by a Swarm of Cicadas

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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