I was sitting in my office wondering if they serve tiramisu at Disneyland Tokyo when suddenly I realized there was a loud humming outside my window. The sound had slowly become so loud it was impossible to ignore. Oh yes, that lovely noise the Desert Cicada makes in the summer time in the high desert.
If you read to the end I will offer you some trivia that will win you a bet. You are welcome.
The male desert cicada has on its abdomen two chambers covered with membranes called “tymbals” that it can vibrate, while at rest, to produce its mesmerizing song. It can make various sounds, including, an insistent call for a mate, as well as an excited call to flight, or a hoped-for bluff for its predators. The mating call is what I must be hearing as the sound is long and drawn out and constant. As far as its predators are concerned there are few as the desert cicada has adapted to the desert heat while other critters are hiding out in the shade to avoid the sun and hot air.
I will share a video of the sound of a desert cicada a little later in the post.
Cicada reproduce by laying eggs in the stems of plants. The larvae hatch and drop to the ground where they burrow into the soil and live underground for years, some species staying underground for 17 years. The cicada will spend all but the first moments and the last few weeks of its life as a nymph in its underground chambers. Eventually, they come up out of the ground, shed their exoskeleton, and emerge as an adults. The males then buzz, mate, and die while the females mate, lay eggs, and die. Not too exciting for them I guess.
According to Desert USA the cicada does not bite or sting and apparently is quite tasty.
Early English naturalist Thomas Moufet wrote that the cicada “eats nothing belonging to the earth and drinks only dew, proving cleanliness, purity and propriety; it will not accept wheat or rice, thus indicating its probity and honesty; – how appealing to celestial conservatives! It appears always at a fixed time, showing it is endowed with fidelity, sincerity and truthfulness.”
By now you must be curious as to what the desert cicada sounds like. Watch this video to hear for yourself.
And now as promised, some trivia to impress your friends. Surely you have seen the image of Kokopelli?
Well, it is actually a desert cicada.
So to all you girlies with a Kokopelli tattoo… That is a bug. A beautiful sounding bug but still a bug.
A bug that always makes me smile.
Have you had the chance to hear the desert cicada? Or is there some other critter’s sound that makes you smile? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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