Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Cicadas Are Back

“Cicadas are probably best known for their buzzing and clicking noises, which can be amplified by multitudes of insects into an overpowering hum.”

The hum of the cicadas sounds like a Martian space ray or a flying saucer from some B movie.

Cicadas on tree branch

“Males produce this species-specific noise with vibrating membranes on their abdomens.”

And they say women never shut up.  Men are so showy.

“Cicadas are also famous for their penchant for disappearing entirely for many years, only to reappear in force at a regular interval. There are some 3,000 cicada species, but only some share this behavior (the 17-year cicada is an example).”

Seventeen years is just long enough to forget about them.

single Cicada on tree trunk

“Cicadas are members of the order Homoptera and are physically distinguished by their stout bodies, broad heads, clear-membrane wings, and large compound eyes.

Cicadas have big red eyes and unwieldy bodies.  Cicadas wobble when they fly as though drunk or very sleepy.  Destination uncertain.  Collision potential high.

“Periodical cicadas do not create destructive plagues, as some locusts do, though tens or hundreds of thousands of insects may crowd into a single acre. Large swarms can overwhelm and damage young trees by feeding and laying eggs, but older trees usually escape without serious damage.”

tree full of Cicadas

Our lot is about a ½ acre. I figure we have 200,000 visiting Cicadas. In our yard, the young Bradford Pear tree serves as the Cicada’s honeymoon hotel.  They hook up end to end and start families.  I can’t tell much about the process and don’t want to look.  But once in a while my husband shakes the little tree to see the Cicadas swarm.  I run screaming.

Cicadas mating

“The insect's amazing lifestyle has been a source of fascination since ancient times. Several cultures, such as the ancient Chinese, regarded these insects as powerful symbols of rebirth.”

I don’t know quite what to make of the Cicadas.  The naturalist in me wants to marvel at these unique creations, but the girly-girl inside is not very fond of big bugs. My friend, Candice Ransom, has a spirit guide that is a buzzard.  I’m okay with that, and I’ve been wondering what mine might be.  I sure hope it’s not a Cicada.

I tried to use the video feature on my Canon 7D to make a little movie of the Cicadas in action.  Between my inexperience with this camera function and my surprise at the swarm of Cicada’s that shook loose from the honeymoon tree,  all I managed to capture was ground moving beneath my feet and my shrieks. For a hearty laugh, take a look at my video, Cicada Shake.


  1. This article bugs me! xo C

  2. Hi Caitlin, You can't remain anonymous! I'd know you anywhere!

  3. I think it's safe to say your career as a wildlife photographer is over!


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