If you have been in Cyprus during the summer in the past, and certainly over the last couple of weeks this year, it will have been near on impossible for you not to have heard the noisy cry of insects from the trees…what creature is it making that noise you ask? It is, of course, the cicadas! (pronounced si-ka-da)
Thankfully the cicada is completely harmless (they don’t bite of sting!), and personally I love the sound they make – for me it is connotated to hot summer. The story behind these interesting creatures is really fascinating, and explains why some years their cries are heard much more prominently than others and also explains why some cultures regard the cicada as a powerful symbol of rebirth:
Type:Bug Diet: Herbivore Average life span in the wild: Up to 17 years Size: 0.75 to 2.25 in (2.2 to 5.5 cm) Group name:Cloud or Plague Did you know? Some cicadas produce loud, noisy calls that can be heard up to 1 mile (1.5 km) away.
Here’a a great feature on cicadas from the National Geographic for you:
Cicadas are probably best known for their buzzing and clicking noises, which can be amplified by multitudes of insects into an overpowering hum. Males produce this species-specific noise with vibrating membranes on their abdomens. The sounds vary widely and some species are more musical than others. Though cicada noises may sound alike to humans, the insects use different calls to express alarm or attract mates.
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). Others are called annuals because, although individuals have multi-year lifecycles, some adults appear every year. The dog day cicada, for example, emerges each year in mid-summer.
When young cicada nymphs hatch from their eggs, they dig themselves into the ground to suck the liquids of plant roots. They spend several early life stages in these underground burrows before surfacing as adults. The process varies in length but often takes a number of years.
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.
Cicadas are members of the order Homoptera and are physically distinguished by their stout bodies, broad heads, clear-membrane wings, and large compound eyes.