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Cicadas make for unwelcome wedding guests as Brood X arrives

Published Wednesday, May. 12th, 2021

Illustration of cicadas with stylized hearts for eyes against a green background
Illustration by Jessica Levey

Brides and Grooms beware, Brood X is on its way to your wedding...




Trillions of cicadas are emerging from the ground right now in areas across the eastern US -- noisy and ready to mate. Yes, trillions


This is less-than-ideal news for brides and grooms who have been eagerly awaiting their May and June weddings, many of which have been postponed due to the pandemic, and will likely be outdoors.


In some ways, Brood X emerging in the middle of wedding season seems pretty on par with the unpredictability of the last year and a half, but it’s still catching many couples and wedding vendors off guard. With everything else that’s been going on -- a pandemic, social unrest, a vaccine race --  it was easy to forget all about the brood’s scheduled arrival... 

Here’s what you need to know if you’re officiating, planning, or attending a wedding over the next few weeks.



What the heck is Brood X? 


Also called the Great Eastern Brood, Brood X is a population of periodical cicadas that all emerge around the same time, in the same region, on the same life cycle, when local soils reach a certain temperature. As of May 10, people have started spotting cicadas in their yards and local forests, and they’re expected to stick around through the end of June.


Brood X only emerges from the ground once every 17 years, to shed their skins and lay their eggs in a cacophonous swarm of mating songs, and they die only a few weeks later. They're loud. They shriek. They land on trees, tables, clothes, people... everywhere. And there are going to be A LOT of them. 


Talk about a rowdy wedding reception! 




Will my wedding be affected? 


Brood X is expected to visit a large portion of the north-eastern US, and will likely be concentrated in 3 regions, according to and periodical cicada expert, Dean of Behavioral and Natural Sciences at Mount St. Joseph University, Gene Kritsky: 


  • Southeastern Pennsylvania, all of Maryland, parts of Delaware and New Jersey, and areas in New York
  • Ohio, Indiana, eastern Illinois, and eastern and northwestern Kentucky
  • Western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, and northern Georgia


West Virginia, Virginia, and Michigan will also see cicadas, but there will be fewer in these areas.  


Visit the Washington Post’s first-ever cicada forecast, to see if your wedding date lands on a day of peak activity.



Holy sh*t! But my wedding is outdoors! 


Yep, all those outdoor weddings we’ve been excited about will have a few (thousand) extra visitors for a few weeks. This is especially likely if your wedding is close to a wooded area. 


But don’t panic! Remember that every wedding day has its share of mishaps and unexpected quirks. First, ask your venue or wedding planner if they have a cicada strategy, then decide which preparations will work best for you! 


Knowledgeable wedding planners in the DC area suggest that couples borrow a tent, ask their wedding DJ to amplify any tunes over the cicada’s chatter, and to choose a few alternate locations for wedding photos in case their first few picks are overrun (as reported by WUSA9). 


If you’re performing a wedding, remember that a calm and collected wedding officiant will save an otherwise stressful day. Focus on making the couple’s ceremony amazing by keeping them focused on each other, their love, and the happy future ahead of them.


Our advice for couples, officiants, and wedding guests is to keep a good sense of humor about it all, and focus on enjoying the day no matter what happens. Rain or shine, cicada swarm or no, it’s a wedding! And that’s a wonderful thing. 






Do not hurt the cicadas. Brood X’s rising is EPIC from a natural sciences standpoint. Periodic cicadas are marvels of the natural world, and there’s centuries of mythology surrounding them. This is a chance to make a memory most people will never have, and a story for the ages! 


Cicadas can’t hurt you. They aren’t poisonous and they rarely bite -- they’re just a bit noisy and in your face. Which, honestly, is exactly what we’d expect from wedding crashers. 




Listen to this siren song! 


PS, if Brood X crashes your wedding we want to see it! Send video clips and photos to [email protected]




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Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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