May 26, 2011

Audiologist Measures Sound of Music City's 'Loudest Voices'

It is a sound Middle Tennesseans cannot miss. The high-pitched drone of the recently emerged cicadas rings loud and clear – so loud in fact that one Vanderbilt hearing and speech scientist is using their deafening tone to educate people on hearing protection.

Todd Ricketts, Ph.D., associate professor at the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center for Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences, measured the sound level of the cicadas at peaks of 85-88 decibels outside of Vanderbilt University Medical Center on Tuesday, May 24. These levels are just higher than shouting and comparable to a motorcycle or subway at 25 feet. Stand too close for too long, and these very vocal insects could damage your hearing, Ricketts explained.

Read the whole article here.

Read Cicadas 101: All buzz, no bite for more cicada news from Vanderbilt.

Watch ‘Cicada Invasion’ video produced by Carole Bartoo of VUMC News and Communication.