Today I heard cicadas for the first time this season…for me, this signals that Summer is finally arriving!
I welcome the shrill singing as it means warm weather and balmy nights are just around the corner!
It is part of an Aussie childhood to find and collect the empty cicada shells…least it was for me.
But I realise actually don’t know much about these loud…or should I say very loud…. critters, so I thought I would do a quick bit of research to find out a bit more about them!
Here are 10 totally random facts about cicadas that you may not know….
1. ‘Cicada’ is a Latin word meaning ‘tree cricket’ and there are over 200 species of cicada in Australia.
2. Some cicadas sing during the heat of the day, others in the evening.
3. Why do they suddenly appear…what triggers them to emerge…..apparently nobody knows exactly!
4. Cicadas are the most efficient and loudest sound-producing insects in existence..however only the male cicadas sing! Some are even loud enough (120 decibels) to be painful to the human ear!
5. Cicadas are different to all other insects in that they actually have a musical drum in their abdomen.
6. Australian cities are some of the very few in the world to experience the loud singing of cicada song right in the middle of suburbia.
7. Many of the common names of cicadas were initially given to them by children! Probably the best known and most mysterious is the Black Prince (Psaltoda plaga) followed closely by the Green Grocer (Cyclochila australasiae).
8. Cicadas spend most their life underground…some of the large, common Australian species of cicada may live underground as nymphs for around 6-7 years! This explains why in some years, cicadas seem to be everywhere, and others you barely hear or see them.
9. Adult cicadas have a life span of only a few weeks…short but you certainly know they are around!
10. Both male and female cicadas have organs for hearing. A pair of large, mirror-like membranes, the tympana, receive the sound. The tympana are connected to an auditory organ by a short tendon. When a male sings, it creases the tympana so that it won’t be deafened by its own noise!
So now you know a bit more about cicadas!
But don’t bring a live one near me…they don’t bite, and aren’t dangerous, but for some reason I hate going near them, let alone pick one up…. something about their little sharp claws!
But they are an essential sound of an Aussie summer, and one that I welcome every year!