Cicadas Cacophony Clarified

CONTRIBUTED BY STACI HAWLEY

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You rarely see them hanging around. Luckily, I’ve caught a pic of two that are well-done. You may call them those huge bug- slash- fly things. You hear their acoustic serenades in trees (sometimes at night). What are they?

They are the CICADA.

A fascinating insect, they mainly call home to places resembling life in the deep inners of the armpit. Hot and sweaty.

So, here are the Top Ten Facts about cicadas to amaze your friends and fellow entemologists:
(Starting from basic to obscure)

1. The shell is used in China as traditional medicine. I’d be up for cicada cipro.

2. Their name means “buzzer” in Latin. Next time you’re at Coco Ichiban, push the “cicada” when your ready to order your curry.

3. They are a delicacy in China, Greece, Malaysia and the Congo. Cicada ceviche. Sure why not.

4. They can produce sounds that reach 120 decibals. As an individual. How loud would a group of 100 be? Figure out the math on that one.5. The average life span is 13-17 years.

5. Cicada’s don’t bite or sting. They do pierce and suck. Perhaps the modern leech?

6. They stay underground for 17 years. I would too if I looked like that.

7. Only the males make the noise. They have drum like membranes on their abdomen called tymbals that vibrate very quickly, creating the ehehehehehehehehe tone. Maybe they could play back up for Johnny Cash. But they may have some difficulties in finding a tailor to make such small black jeans.

8. Cicadas are non- toxic. You can eat them with your crayons.

9. You can see letters on a cicada’s wings: either W or P. You can decode insect language as you deem appropriate.

Hopefully dear readers, I leave you more informed about our lyrical tree inhabiting neighbors.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Omg can’t stand these bugs.
    They always seem to fly after me anytime I go outside and one flew into my house while I tried to let my dogs out!! I ran into the bathroom while my husband killed it.lol
    I’m so scared of them.

  2. Eww..the other day I opened our sliding door and one flew in the house..it was so loud and flying right toward me w/ no fear. My sons had a good time using their nets and helping momma get this out of the house!

  3. hi Staci–
    In response to your post, the DC breed were really icky looking. Large, red eyed winged insects that seemed to fly willy nilly everywhere. They would fly into walls and into you if you weren’t careful… They were similar in shape and size but I don’t recall hearing them (perhaps that’s because I tried to avoid them as much as possible). The ones that came out in mass numbers were periodic cicadas called Brood X. They came out up and down the Mid-Atlantic states including Washington DC, Virginia, and Maryland but I did hear that were found in other states like North Carolina and New Jersey.

  4. Chrissy- Just curious. Did the DC breed of cicadas look and sound the same? Are they common on the East Coast? I’d never experienced them until here–:)

  5. You know the cicadas here may not be poisonous but I do think they cause some gastrointestinal upset in dogs and cats. The X brood Cicadas (the cyclical cicadas that are emerge from the ground every 17 years caused quite a commotion in DC a few years ago. I was living there at the time and recall there were literally thousands of them…they would die and then dogs and cats would eat them. While it didn’t cause them too much harm, most people did have to take their pets to the vet. So watch your pets closely and don’t allow them to eat them…yuck.

  6. I totally pictured pouring some milk over a bowl of cicadas and crayons. Lets call it power protein rainbow crunch. Oh yeah, they are called Semi in Japanese.

  7. Great post Staci!! Now, if I could just learn how to pronounce the name correctly, I’d be set! I’ve heard about a million different versions (okay, not a mil, but maybe about 5). The most common is the one with the “s” sound for the first “c”. Anyone know??

  8. Interesting that the cicada lives 13-17 yrs. I heard that they stay underground for up to 17 yrs before taking to the trees to mate. ..hence the name 17 year cicada.

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