Cicada... Ahhh!

Animal Planet time!

Unbeknownst to the rest of the US, some of us in the central-eastern area are up to our eyeballs in cicadas.  Cicadas are grasshopper-sized bugs measuring about 1-1/2 to 2" long.  Every so many years, they crawl out of the ground and swarm around.  They're sometimes mistakenly called locusts but the're not the same.  The larvae of these things burrow at the bases of trees and come out like clockwork at regular intervals depending on what "brood" they are.


17-Year Cicada

The ones we currently have here in Kentucky are called "17-year cicadas".  Yep.. they've been in the ground for 17 years and are presently swarming around in large numbers in areas close to forests and wooded areas.  The males hang out in the trees, make noise to attract females, and then they get together and hook up.  In about 2 weeks, they will be gone - the adults will die but not before the females lay eggs in the treebark which will turn into larvae, drop to the ground and burrow and feed for another 17 years and then they will swarm and mate again.

They don't damage crops and are actually considered harmless.  Besides the life cycle, what is interesting and noteworthy about them is the sound they make.  Depending on where you are, and how many are around, the sound can be almost deafening. Imagine six hundred and eleventy billion crickets all cricketing at once. That's kinda what these sound like.  You can hear them from inside your house, from inside a closed-up vehicle while driving, they are even loud enough to be heard over the engine of a 14hp Cub Cadet lawn tractor.  They normally stop their sound at dark.

Although they are said to be harmless to humans, they do BITE.  I know because I have been bit.  It's not the kind of bite that a fly or mosquito does where it injects an anticoagulant that stings and you swell up.  These things, if given enough time to get comfortable, will start chewing on your skin.  None have left marks yet but it isn't at all comfortable when they start chewing.

They prefer shade and tend to stay in the trees.  If they are in a lawn, they will gradually shift with the shade and move to where the sun isn't shining.  Saturday, I mowed my mom's and my yard and these bugs were landing all over me and biting.  They were pissed.  It's hard to drive a lawn tractor while shooing with both arms and cussing.  I found that it's best if you brush them off sideways - if you accidently smash one a little bit, it screams and that's waaaay creepy.  Bugs shouldn't scream. And cicadas are evil looking.  They look like devil bugs... red beady eyes and nasty big squishy bug bodies.  There are so many where I live that it could pass for a Hitchcock movie set.

So anyway... I made a recording with my BOSS 1180 and a condensor mic.  Let's see how it sounds. <click>  Not as distinct as I hoped.  On the recording, it sounds like static or hiss but that's pretty much what cicada sound like. In real life, they are louder and you can hear the individual bugs.  I recorded this on my mom's back patio from a distance about 150 meters away from the treeline.  Notice at about the 30 second mark, I head back toward the back door and at the 35 second mark, I go inside the door and close it and then it gets quiet - I didn't change any settings so by that you can tell that what you heard is not hiss from excessive input gain from the mic.

So that's what they sound like.

Oh... and our newspaper is publishing cicada recipies.  Get that?  There are recipes people wrote to actually cook and eat these big nasty disgusting bugs.  They say they're tasty and a good protein source.  Ick.  Send them to China and they can eat them along with their deep-fried dung beatles.

I'm getting used to the sound.  We'll have this batch of Cicada around for a couple of weeks and then they'll be gone for 17 years, so I'll guess I should enjoy them while they are here.

Class dismissed! :)

~Steve

   

   

Comments

I grew up in the midwest, so I remember them all too well (they are sooo freaking NOISY!!!).  I didn't know they bit (or screamed when squished.  You're right about the devil beetle comment though.  If one was sitting here, I'd scream my head off LOL.

That was a good recording, bottlebob.  Imagine listening to that constantly for 2 weeks!  Well they're gone now.  The winged ones are dead and their offspring will hatch in another 17 years.

It does sound like that but i think it's just those bugs. And sorry Stevie, i should read before posting, you already included a recording.

whoa bottlebob! right about 7-8 seconds before it ended it actually sounded like a rattlesnake in there too!

Tuna ><((((*> the other white meat! I am Keeper Of The Whip!

Back in 2004 there was an outburst that made the news and someone on a forum recorded this bit:

as a child, loved finding their dried up crunchy skins/shells stuck to the trees in the morning. also, you can tell a male from female because the male wears a tux. and.....we use to tied thread gently around them and let them fly around on the string. then snap the string real quick and cut them in half! fun kid stuff!

Tuna ><((((*> the other white meat! I am Keeper Of The Whip!

Ok now you guys have succeeded in making me itchy.  And I feel like bugs are crawling all over me........Undecided

 

But yeah I couldn't help but keep reading........lol 

I smell Shishkabob! mmmmmm yummiez!

THAT is absolutely nasty.

Evil Potato BugCan you get a recording of one screaming? if these things are harmless then they're nothing compared to the africanized (killer) bees that we have, and really nothing compared to the most-feared bug there is (that I still have nightmares about): - this little guy (2-3 inches long)

 

Devil bugs, yum!(?)

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