Cicada season is coming! Cicada season is coming! And not just any cicada season: this is the Big One, Brood X, the red-eyed monsters that show up once every 17 years. Be afraid, everyone. Be very afraid.
The owners of at least one Washington, DC, restaurant are so terrified that they’ve shut down for the next month. That would be Little Pearl, a coffee shop/wine bar in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, which preemptively closed its patio for four weeks, starting May 10. The issue isn’t so much fear of dive-bombing insects but the sound of their mating calls, which can reach the same decibel levels as a lawnmower. “It’s going to be cicada Lollapalooza,” an entomologist told The Washington Post. “We’re talking about teenagers that have been underground for years.”
“We have decided to pause service at Little Pearl for 4 weeks starting May 10th in preparation for ‘Cicada Season,’” read an email from the restaurant to customers with reservations, reprinted by the Post. “As we tried to get as creative as possible to combat them this year, we know in good faith that a single 100 decibel cicada will ruin anyone’s dinner experience, a ‘tsunami’ of them will be impossible to control.” The restaurant offered to reschedule, refund any pre-payments, or get them a reservation at its sister restaurant, Rose’s Luxury.
The proprietors of other restaurants that were around during the last cicada invasion, in 2004, aren’t as bothered. “Our experience was that we weren’t really affected at all,” says Christianne Ricchi, the owner of downtown Italian restaurant i Ricchi, told the Post. “We figure it will be about the same.”
A trip through the Post’s archives revealed that Ricchi’s memory was accurate: the most annoying thing about the cicadas last time around was the singing. They did not fly at humans. Restaurant patios were not littered with cicada corpses.
When questioned by the Post, the owners of Little Pearl put up a brave front and claimed they weren’t really scared by the cicadas. Cicada season, they explained, was a convenient excuse to shut down for a few weeks to fix up the restaurant’s dining room in anticipation of DC increasing its indoor seating limits. Okay, guys, if you say so. Meanwhile, the rest of us will be out on patios struggling to hear our companions and wondering about how those Brood X cicadas actually taste.