- Little Pearl, a luxury DC wine bar, is closing for a month during an upcoming, rare cicada swarm.
- Trillions of “Brood X” cicadas emerge from the ground once every 17 years across the eastern US.
- Little Pearl said the sound, which could be louder than a jet, would “ruin” people’s dining experience.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
A luxury wine bar in Washington, DC, is closing for a month in anticipation of a giant swarm of trillions cicadas across the east coast, but other restaurants in the area are adamant they’ll stay open, according to a report by The Washington Post.
“We have decided to pause service at Little Pearl for 4 weeks starting May 10th in preparation for ‘Cicada Season,'” Little Pearl, a wine bar in the Capitol Hill area, told a customer who tried to get a reservation at the restaurant, per The Post.
Small numbers of cicadas appear in the eastern US every year – but occasionally, a giant swarm emerges from the ground. This year, cicadas known as “Brood X” are set to emerge from the soil to mate and then die across late May and early June. The happens just once every 17 years, which is the length of their lifecycle.
For the five to six weeks that they’re above ground, the live cicadas – and their crunchy, discarded exoskeletons – will be impossible to miss.
The swarm will hit the Northeast, including DC, Maryland, and New York, alongside parts of the Midwest and West Virginia, Dr Michael Raupp, professor emeritus of entomology at the University of Maryland, told WJLA. In some areas, there will be 1.5 million cicadas per acre emerging from the ground, he said.
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Male cicadas are known for their loud buzzing noise, which they make to attract females. Gene Kritsky, a biology professor at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, Ohio, previously told Insider that during the 2004 swarm a colony of Brood X cicadas made noises louder than the sound of a typical jet flying into Reagan National Airport.
Little Pearl told said in the email to the customer that “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 bar said the customer could reschedule, get a refund, or move the reservation to its sister restaurant.
Little Pearl told Washingtonian that it was also using cicada season as an opportunity to redecorate its restaurant and get prepared to reopen at a bigger capacity. “We are closing … in order to renovate, clean, reorganize, up-train, and get all our affairs in order as the pandemic caused so many disruptions,” the bar’s owner Aaron Silverman told the publication.
“It just so happens that this period of time falls during heavy cicada season, and roughly 80% of our current seating is outdoors in a heavily vegetative area (lots of trees, plants, etc) as we are in the garden of the Hill Center. This seemed like the best window to take advantage of.”
Other restaurants The Post spoke to said that they weren’t worried about the upcoming storm.
The owner of downtown Italian restaurant i Ricchi told the publication that it wasn’t “really affected” by the last storm, while L’Auberge Chez Francois’s owner said that it hadn’t been a “huge problem.”