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Cicadas are loud, but these tips can keep Brood X from bugging you nonstop

Suggestions for managing the considerable noise created by Brood X cicadas.

Sean Buckley Social Media Producer
5 min read
cicada climbs a tree

A Brood X cicada climbs up a tree in Annapolis, Maryland. 

Russell Holly/CNET

If you live anywhere east of Texas, you might be familiar with the high-pitched buzz of periodical cicadas. And this year, depending on where you are, you can expect to hear plenty of it. Blame all the excess noise on the "Great Eastern Brood" of cicadas  commonly referred to as "Brood X" that are emerging from underground by the trillions for the first time in 17 years

Brood X is one of the largest groups of 17-year periodical cicadas, and en masse, they're very, very loud. In fact, they can hit volumes upward of 90 decibels -- making about as much noise as a running lawnmower or a jet airline on approach for landing.

The cicadas will only stick around for a few weeks, but they still produce enough noise that they can be an irritation, especially for those still working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic. There's not much you can do to stop the bugs, either, but there are a few things you can do to create some peace and quiet for yourself until Brood X finishes its mating season and hibernates for another 17 years. 

Active noise-canceling headphones

Were you looking for an excuse to buy a nice pair of noise-canceling headphones? You just got one. Active noise-canceling headphones won't completely block out the mating call of the cicadas, but they can dampen it, making it easier to drown out the amorous insects with music, games, TV or just a different kind of white noise.

Choosing the right pair of active noise-canceling headphones for you can be pretty daunting. Do you want the best of the best, or just something to get you through the season? Be sure to take a look at CNET's full guide to best noise-canceling headphones for some options, or if you're on a budget, you can also check out our guide to cheap wireless noise-canceling headphones for options that cost less than $100. 

David Carnoy/CNET
Battery Life Rated up to 30 hoursNoise Canceling YesMultipoint YesHeadphone Type Over-ear wireless headphonesWater-Resistant No IP rating

Sony's WH-1000XM4 headphones have excellent sound and top-notch noise canceling, not to mention solid battery life. These remain one the top noise-canceling headphones, if not the top ones out there. After launching at $350, they've regularly been discounted to as low as $278, so look for them on sale.

Read our Sony WH-1000XM4 review.

Read our Sony WH-1000XM4 review.

David Carnoy/CNET
Battery Life Rated up to 20 hoursNoise Canceling Yes (ANC)Multipoint NoHeadphone Type Over-ear wireless headphonesWater-Resistant No IP rating

Yes, they're expensive, but the AirPods Max deliver richer, more detailed sound than lower-priced competitors from Bose and Sony. They also feature arguably the best noise canceling on the market, along with premium build quality and Apple's virtual surround spatial audio feature for video watching.

Read our Apple AirPods Max review.

Sarah Tew/CNET
Battery Life Rated up to 40 hoursNoise Canceling Yes (ANC)Multipoint YesHeadphone Type Over-ear wireless headphonesWater-Resistant No IP rating

Anker's headphones are arguably the best value in the category of noise-canceling headphones. Not only do these over-ear headphones sound quite decent for their regular list price of $60 (they often sell for $10 less), but they're also comfortable to wear thanks to the secure earcups.

White noise machines

If you have to live through a sound assault that never ends, it may as well be a relaxing sort of noise. A good white noise machine can help disguise the cicada mating call and help you sleep through the night.

These machines haven't specifically been tested against the din of cicada song, but they helped CNET's Amanda Capritto sleep through the noise of crying babies and barking dogs from neighboring apartments. Here's some of our resident light sleeper's best picks for soothing sound generators. Need more options? Make sure to look at the best white noise machines for better sleep in 2021.

Angela Lang/CNET

A favorite on Amazon, the Homedics Sound Spa strikes the perfect balance of quality and budget -- that is, it's a good value. This white noise machine has a timer you can set for 15, 30 or 60 minutes and plays six calming nature sounds and sleep sounds. Choose from the soothing sound options of white noise, brook, thunder, summer night, ocean and rain. It also has a battery-powered option, so you can take it with you.

DIY sound isolation for the home


Actually sound-proofing a room or home can be prohibitively expensive, but there are still a few things you can do to make sure your living space is suitably quiet. Unless you're willing to add double sheetrock or soundproofing insulation to your home's walls, your best bet is to work on your doorways. Weather-stripping foam tape on the top and sides of a door's frame, plus a plastic "door sweep" brush on the bottom of the door, can go a long way to making sure outside noise doesn't sneak in through your home's entryway. If that doesn't work, you could always buy a soundproof box from Japan

Get some really nice earplugs

Sometimes, the best way to solve a problem is the old-fashioned way -- snuff out the sound with a good pair of earplugs. It's a traditional solution, sure, but that doesn't mean it has to be low tech. These days you can get earplugs that not only block sound with a physical seal, but use active noise cancelation technology to help make your world even more quiet.

The high-tech option isn't for everyone, but it's a great option for folks who are serious about drowning out outside noises at bedtime -- be it the drone of seasonal cicadas or the unrelenting snores of your partner.

Check out some options below, or check out our full earplugs guide for our favorite high-tech and foam earplugs.


The Bose Sleepbuds II aren't your average earplugs. Classified as a noise-masking device (rather than noise-canceling), these sleepbuds don't just block off your ears. They use technology that helps cover up unpredictable, sudden and impulsive sounds, like snoring or the honking of car horns, by giving you a different, comforting sound to listen to. They come with 10 preloaded sounds -- everything from airplane noise to a waterfall to your standard white noise -- that play throughout the night. You can also use the app, which has 40 sounds in total, to swap out sounds based on your mood or preference.


The SoundOff Sleep Noise Masking Device is another option that's similar to the Bose Sleepbuds II and the QuietOn Sleep Earbuds in function. Like the QuietOn Sleep Earbuds, they play one sound -- a pink noise that has an almost wave-like vibe. There's a small button you hold down to turn on the pink noise, then you can press it to toggle through five levels of volume.