The most frequently asked question we get is "will cicadas spoil my outdoor wedding"? I guess Al Roker gets the "will it rain on my wedding day" questions? Seriously, most people consider their wedding day the most important day of their life — no wonder they want it to be perfect. I’m no Jennifer
Lopez, but I’ll try to help you plan around these potential wedding crashers.
Magicicada typically emerge sometime in early May, and have expired by the last week of June. When they emerge depends on where you live. Typically, cicadas in northern states emerge later than those in southern states, but you can pretty much count on them being around in May and June. Try the cicada emergence formula to try to estimate when they will emerge in your area.
You can use the chart on our Frequently Asked Questions page to see if Magicicadas are emerging in your state in the year of your wedding.
There are two things you need to consider: 1) your state and city, and 2) the actual location where the wedding will be held.
Your state and city:
First check the cicada maps!
- Step 1: Find an actual map of your state and town – you can use Mapquest.
- Step 2: Find a corresponding cicada brood map. A brood map will tell you where the cicadas will appear in a given year. We have most of the brood maps here.
- Step 3) compare the brood map with the real map. If the areas match, cicadas may be an issue.
The actual location where the wedding will be held:
The good news is Magicicadas don’t emerge in every yard and every neighborhood. You have to do some research:
- Ask the property owners what the last emergence was like. If they weren’t around, knock on a few doors, or go to the library and check the town newspaper. Obviously, if the last emergence was heavy, cicadas may be an issue.
- Does the property have no trees, some trees, or is it like a forest? Cicadas love trees, especially deciduous trees (like oaks, maples) and fruit trees. If there are plenty of trees in the yard, or the surrounding yards, cicadas may be an issue.
- Consider renting a hall. Sure, grandma’s yard is pretty,
but nothing beats peace of mind — and it might rain anyway.
- If you’re set on having an outdoor wedding rent a big tent. Definitely have a tent for the ceremony and guests. Remember, it has to fit the band as well. You might also consider renting a second tent for the food area.
- Music. Cicadas are loud, and you will hear them, but good PA systems (like those DJs use), and bands are louder. A small stereo might not be loud enough.
- The food. Don’t bring it out until it’s time to eat, and keep it covered. Your caterer should have some ideas as well — like serve the food inside the house, or under a tent. Cicadas have no interest in human food, but one might fall out of a tree and into the potato salad.
- Educate your guests: Let them know that cicadas don’t sting like bees. Let them know they’ll be around for the length of the party.
- Clean up: Cicadas leave skins behind — you may have to clean up before the wedding. A shop vac works fine.
- Make a game of it. Kids love bugs: have some containers around for the kids to collect the cicadas in. It’s something they’ll never forget.
- Bring your sense of humor, and relax. Like rain, there’s not much you can do about it. If the property is full of cicadas, get set for some hilarious pictures.
- Bagpipes are effective at drowning out cicadas.
- Don’t Use pesticide. You’ll only stink up the yard, and make the guests sick. Plus, cicadas are flyers — the cicadas from the neighbors yard will fly right into yours.
- Don’t Panic. They’re only bugs, and while they look fearsome and have hard body parts, they don’t bite and sting like bees and flies do.
What you can expect
- The bodies of dead cicadas littering the ground.
- The constant hum of cicada song.
- An occasional cicada landing on a guest. Guests screaming.
- An occasional cicada crawling on a table, chair, barbecue.
I speak from personal experience. In 1996 friends of mine had an out door wedding in the midst of a cicada emergence. The yard was filled with tall oak trees (which cicadas love) — and plenty of cicadas as well. Cicada shells littered the ground near the base of trees. You could hear the cicadas hum the whole time, but they didn’t drown out the music (a classic quartet, and a DJ later on). An occasional cicada landed on a guest, and you could see a few crawling on lawn chairs, but everyone seemed to take it in stride and the kids loved them. The cicadas only made the event even more memorable.
On the other hand, my sister thinks the cicadas “pretty much destroyed the wedding”, so maybe you should rent a hall after all.
Lastly, here’s some scenes from a cicada infested wedding I attended in 1996: