Cicadas and their songs MzansiBride

Winona Griggs

Cicadas and their Catchy Tunes

Did you know that cicadas have their own unique way of singing? These fascinating insects are famous for their songs, which can be heard in warm parts of the world. Now, I used to think that they sang because they were hot, but it turns out that their singing is a matter of life and death.

Imagine this: cicadas only live for about two weeks. With such a short lifespan, they have to act fast if they want to find a mate and have babies. There’s no time for fancy courtships and sweet melodies.

Male cicadas are the ones who do most of the singing. They make their songs by clicking their abdomens together. They have special membranes called tymbals that they buckle to produce this distinctive sound. The vibrations are then amplified by their bodies, so the sound travels far and wide. Females can hear these songs from up to 500 meters away!

To us humans, all the songs may sound the same, but each species of cicada actually has its own unique set of calls. Females are tuned in to only react to the songs of their own species. It’s like a private language that only they understand.

Once the female cicada finds a mate, she carefully places her eggs into small openings in the tree bark. This is a crucial part of the reproduction process, and she will repeat it multiple times until she has laid hundreds of eggs. Interestingly, some cicada species have developed a clever strategy to ensure successful hatching. They sync their life cycles with prime numbers, which helps them avoid predictable breeding patterns that their predators could take advantage of. By doing so, they increase their chances of survival.

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When the eggs eventually hatch, the newborn cicadas are called nymphs. These nymphs spend most of their lives underground, where they feed on tree roots. To protect themselves from flooding, they cleverly use their droppings to create waterproof cells. Despite their resourcefulness, a staggering 98% of them perish before they have the opportunity to reemerge.

Did you know that cicadas, also known as “resurrection bugs,” are believed to represent rebirth and eternal life? Many cultures, like Japan, view these insects as symbols of reincarnation.

Cicadas are a popular snack for birds, wasps, and even some humans. Surprisingly, they have a meaty texture, especially the females, and taste similar to asparagus. In fact, their shells are also used in traditional Chinese medicine.

However, spotting a cicada can be quite challenging. These inconspicuous creatures resemble large flies and blend into their surroundings. Although their loud buzzing is unmistakable, finding them perched on tree branches requires a keen eye. In their short lifespan, cicadas devote themselves to feeding, singing, and mating.

Interesting cicada facts:

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