Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cool Animal Sounds: Cicada

It's been a while since I've featured an insect in one of these. This time around, it's the cicada, whose call an be heard beginning at 0:15 in the video below.



What you hear in that video is the cicada's mating call and they basically "pop" a membrane, known as a tymbal, in their abdomen to make it. Cicadas are amazingly loud creatures, and if you have a large number singing at the same time it can be quite annoying. Though in most areas you will hear cicadas during the summer, I've already been hearing them for the past several weeks.

The familiar winged cicada adult is actually very short-lived, mating and then dying after a few weeks. Many species are known by name such as 13-year and 17-year cicadas and, amazingly enough, this number is the amount of time that their larvae spend under ground, feeding on roots. After those many years are up, the larvae come above ground and climb onto a surface to pupate. The emerged adult then spends its short life singing and breeding before dieing. The eggs laid by adults on twigs hatch after six or seven weeks and then burrow into the ground for their turn at a long life feeding on plant roots.

Due to the long life cycle of these insects, you will usually see a different species each year. If you pay attention you may be able to see these differences. Some are quite striking in appearance, including a North American species (Magicicada septendecim) with brilliant red eyes and an Australian species (Cyclochila australasiae) that is a vibrant shade of green.

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