Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Cicadas: What Are They and Why Are They so Loud?

If you live in some parts of the country that have Cicadas, you know how loud they can be. But did you know Cicadas make so much noise because of their short life spans and the sounds they make are in hopes of attracting a mate? While the shrill noise can be very disturbing to humans' cicadas only live for a very short time so the noise won't last for very long.

Cicadas aren't stinging or biting insects, they can fly but usually just sit in tree's and bushes making noise. Cicadas are very clumsy when they fly so it's not unheard of the insect actually flying right into a person and in some cases landing on them. All someone has to do if that happens is brush them away and they will return to flying about until they find a suitable place to land.

Cicadas are a type of insect that has a tiny beak that enables them to eat and drink the fluids or what's called xylem from plants. A female cicada will deposit her eggs which are as tiny as a grain of rice, into the grooves of trees as she walks on it. The eggs will hatch and a small bug somewhat looking like a large ant will then feed from the fluids in the tree until it is ready to drop to the ground where it will dig down and find a root of the tree to feed from.

The cicada will feed from the root for 17 years before climbing back out and shedding its exoskeleton and letting its body harden and its wings dry out. The cicada will then search for a mate and start the life cycle all over again.

There are several different types of cicadas and each species has its own life cycle. Some have 17 year life cycles while others have 12, 13 or 16 year life cycles.

During the summer in parts of Las Vegas I can hear the cicadas' loud mating noises for hours a day. Cicadas will crawl out of the ground when the temperature is between 60F and 70F and they are ready to look for a mate.

When their life cycle is at and end it's not uncommon to see their dead bodies littering the ground around trees and bushes as they fall from the trees. This is the time that some small children find it hard to deal with so many dead bugs on the ground but parents can use this time as a learning experience, teaching children about the insects. I found the two dead cicadas pictured above by a tree a few years ago.