Can cicadas really predict the first frost?

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Recent data seems to struggle with the rules of an old frost folklore (thumbnail photo shows cicada exoskeleton in Dayton, taken August 13, 2018 by Jim Noelker).

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

As we enter the dog days of summer, you may begin to notice a particular noise on some of the warmer evenings. What you're hearing are the cicadas that have emerged from their slumber in the soil, calling out to their mates.

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When the soil reaches a temperature near 64 degrees Fahrenheit at a depth of around 8 inches, the cicadas emerge from the ground. Then the males will generally find a suitable spot on a tree and begin calling for the females.

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According to BBC, the call of a cicada is actually the loudest insect noise on Earth.
Folklore says that 6 weeks after the cicada's mating call is when we should expect to see the first frost.

If that were the case today, the first frost would arrive on September 24th. However, according to the NWS in Wilmington, on average, Dayton experiences the first frost around October 22nd. This would make the folklore about a month early!

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In recent years, warmer and warmer summer trends have drawn the cicadas from the soil earlier and earlier. So, the 6-week rule may need a bit of adjusting if the warmer summer trend continues.

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