The Noisiest Of All Insects – Cicadas
September 28, 2010 | In: Animal facts for kids
Easy to hear, cicadas are hard to find. In trying to stay out of sight, they will move around a branch, hiding from view.
The cicada is about the noisiest of all insects. Some cicadas are so loud that they can be heard a quarter-mile (.4 kilometer) away. If cicadas are up close, conversation may be impossible. Male cicadas produce their whirring sound for the benefit of female cicadas; although we might not care for the tune, female cicadas do! These shrill sounds are produced by means of vibrating membranes located on the underside of the male’s abdomen.
The periodical cicada is the most common form of this insect. One kind of periodical cicada has a 13-year life cycle and it lives only in the southeastern United States. The 17-year cicada may be found in the northeastern part of the United States.
Reportedly, the 17-year cicada has the longest cycle of development of any known insect. As many as 20,000 to 40,000 cicadas, or “broods,” may emerge together from beneath a single large tree. This does NOT mean that they appear in an area only once in 13 or 17 years; there may be several broods in different stages of development. When these large broods appear, the damage to trees may be significant.
High up in the trees in late spring, newly emerged adult female cicadas lay 400 to 600 eggs. Within six to seven weeks, newly hatched cicadas fall to the ground and crawl down cracks in the soil, disappearing underground for many years. Exactly how many years will they disappear for? That depends on the species of cicada and the latitude of the habitat. Cicada nymphs feed on root juices until the end of the nymphal stage, when they dig their way up and climb up trees to “molt,” or shed their skin. We hear cicada music only after adult winged cicadas emerge from the nymphal case. If predators don’t eat them, the cicadas live for about a month.