My daughter & nephew found this cicada on my parents’ pool deck this morning. It was sluggish from the cold so I was able to hold it for quite awhile to photograph it, until it got warm enough from the sun to fly off.
I’ve been fascinated by cicadas since I was a kid. Those wings — aren’t those amazing wings? And the huge sound they make — you can’t help but know they’re all around — yet you hardly ever see them, they hide so far up in the trees.
(Although you can easily find the husks of the nymphs. Here’s a pic of a husk my daughter found a few weeks ago — not a great pic because I took it tonight, so the flash is going off.)
As I started this post, I thought maybe I could figure out what species of cicada I’d photographed today, but no luck — it doesn’t look much like the photos I found of various species online. It also turns out there are a loooot of different kinds of cicadas — 100 species in North America alone, 2500 worldwide. About all I can figure is that it’s probably a dog day or annual cicada, not a periodic cicada.
Cicadas are unique in sound-producing insects in that they have a musical drum in their abdomen. The organs that produce sound are â€˜tymbales’ ~ paired membranes that are ribbed and located at the abdominal base. Contracting the internal tymbal muscles yield a pulse of sound as the tymbals buckle inwards. As these muscles relax, the tymbals return to their original position. The interior of the male abdomen is substantially hollow to amplify the resonance of the sound. The song intensity of the louder cicadas acts as an effective bird repellent. Males of many species tend to gather which creates a greater sound intensity and engenders protection from avian predators.
In addition to the mating song, many species also have a distinct distress call, usually a somewhat broken and erratic sound emitted when an individual is seized.
One summer –it must have been in the 70s — while we were visiting my paternal grandparents in Germantown, New York, I happened to be out in the yard when I heard a racket in the air — a cicada killer wasp had attacked a cicada; they were grappling midair like two monsters in a Godzilla movie, the cicada buzzing noisily — the sound was recognizable as a cicada buzz but at the same time it didn’t sound at all like when they call from the trees. “Broken and erratic” for sure.
I guessed what was going on — I’d probably read about cicada wasps in Ranger Rick or someplace.
It’s one of the pleasures of summer vacation for a kid though, isn’t it? To spend all that time hanging around “not doing anything,” and as a consequence catching things like that — like a cicada wasp seizing a cicada. It’s not even that such things are so uncommon, either, just that you have to be in the proverbial right place/right time.
Anyway. A few more weeks of cicadas singing yet, before the summer’s done. Happy dog days. Good night.
[tags] cicada [/tags]