Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Cicadas Are Getting Quieter

     The weather has turned a little cooler for a few days, but the cicadas began singing less before it changed.  They must be pairing off -- and alas, once cicadas have wooed and won, the clock is ticking; they've only got a month for their entire adult lives and once the females have laid eggs in little grooves they scratch into tree branches, they're not going to be around for much longer.

     Eggs in the branches, for a creature that spends most of its life underground?  Yep.  You thought kangaroos had it tough?  Newly-hatched cicadas, tiny white insects, plummet to the ground and dig, searching for roots to tap for the sap they live on.  Depending on the breed, they'll be at that for anything from one year to seventeen.  That is, the survivors will; the mortality rate is as high as 98 percent.  So, if you think you've got a lot of them in peak years, bear in mind it could be far more.

     One more odd fact: cicadas sweat!  When it's too hot, they drink heavily and let the excess moisture evaporate through their skin.  If you're thinking most insects don't do that, you'd be right.

     Last night, it sounded like there was one (1) cicada still singing in my neighborhood, and he was slow and mournful -- a bit like this.

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