Cicada Dog Days of August

Look, look! If we're having show and tell at school today, I know what I'm going to bring...

Smart squirrels and monster caterpillars looking for a new friend can shake hands with this cicada!Cicada2 CicadaYesterday the weather was absolutely perfect - not overly hot or humid and sunny so I was sitting outside on my lunch hour as was one of my co-workers.  As he came back in, he told me there was a cicada on the tree nearby. He only knew it because as he walked past it made its distinctive cicada noise. He said it was unusual to see them because usually they fly away when people come nearby.


  Of course, I ran inside to find my  camera and enjoyed my first ever encounter with a cicada - actually two of them. They let me get quite close to take a photo and didn't fly away. Admittedly, they look a little closer than I was because of cropping the photo as well.

Aren't they remarkable? The wings are so delicate. As far as I can tell, this one is a Tibicen Cicada also called a Dog-Day Cicada because they come out in late July and August. Here's a snippet of information about them from Wikipedia: "Male cicadas (and only males) have loud noisemakers called "tymbals" on the sides of the abdominal base. Their "singing" is not stridulation as in many other familiar sound-producing insects like crickets (where two structures are rubbed against one another): the tymbals are regions of the exoskeleton that are modified to form a complex membrane with thin, membranous portions and thickened "ribs". They rapidly vibrate these membranes with strong muscles, and enlarged chambers derived from the tracheae make their body serve as a resonance chamber, greatly amplifying the sound. Some cicadas produce sounds louder than 106 dB (SPL), among the loudest of all insect-produced sounds. (This amazing sound has frequently inspired haiku poets in Japan to write about them.) They modulate their noise by wiggling their abdomens toward and away from the tree that they are on. Only males produce the cicadas' distinctive sound. Both sexes, however, have tympana, which are membranous structures used to detect sounds; thus, the cicadas' equivalent of ears."

Isn't Mother Nature amazing? Now if we were to have background audio it ought to be a cicada chorus or ... perhaps Simon & Garfunkel singing "It's all happening at the zoo."