The Great Cicada Conspiracy

Big, ugly red-eyed bugs are hatching in Tennessee and expecting to be a royal pain to the state’s citizens for the next five weeks. And they’re louder than rockets. Which means the bulletin board at has a discussion thread of concerned festivalgoers.

This concern is Brood XIX, a cicada hatch that occurs every 13 years. This may sound familiar: in 2004 Brood X took over parts of the Midwest. Brood X hatches every 17 years and there was a concern that the insects, whose drones were as loud as lawn mowers, would compromise outdoor music events.

“For us in Middle Tennessee, this is definitely the big one,” University of Tennessee entomologist Frank Hale told UPI.

But the organizers of Bonnaroo are not that concerned.

The cicada infestation is not prominent in Coffee County, home to the Manchester event, according to Bonnaroo Director of Corporate Communications Jeff Cuellar. Also, the June 9-12 event arrives as the cicada nuisance wanes.

Moreover, Great Stage Park is a wide-open area, and cicadas like to live in trees. Ironically, trees are in short supply, even in the campgrounds, Cuellar noted, and event promoters AC Entertainment and Superfly Productions have a five-year plan to plant more trees in the area. If anything, the insects, which will be laying eggs, will help fertilize the grounds, Cuellar said.

“And they’re harmless,” he told Pollstar. “They’re just big, dumb insects that fly around and run into things.”

Cuellar said Bonnaroo officials are in discussion with the University of Tennessee Entomology Department and are considering a “The More You Know” video spoof series that will educate festivalgoers about the cicada swarm.

“But we’re more concerned about educating them about proper sunscreen and keeping hydrated,” he noted.