Monday, May 23, 2011

It's a cicada crescendo!

We're currently being bombarded, physically and sonically, by millions upon millions of cicadas. This is apparently the emergence of a 13-year cycle of the little beasties, and they're everywhere. This morning I opened the car door and half a dozen of them promptly flew inside. It took me at least five minutes to track them all down and evict them, so that I wouldn't be annoyed (let alone deafened) by their incredibly loud noise while I tried to drive.

The sheer quantity of these things is astonishing. According to one source, there are "as many as 1.5 million per acre - or 800 tons a square mile". Even when dealing with plagues of locusts in Africa, I can't remember measuring them in tons of insects per square mile!

For the benefit of those who live in parts of the world where they've never heard the noise produced by cicadas, here are a couple of video clips. The first is of a single cicada, demonstrating how it produces noise by contracting and relaxing internal muscles.

Here's a recording of a wood filled with the little beasties. Turn up the volume to enjoy (?) their song.

Loud, aren't they? When I went outside this morning, it was literally painful to my ears! I seriously considered putting on the electronic hearing protection that I wear at the shooting range.



Anonymous said...

I lived in centeral North Carolina for a few years and in the summers the nose from the cacida was deafening at night.

Funny the sound was like the "Mexican wave" since it traveled from one area to another in a continuous LOUD wave.

Think it has to do with mating.

When it comes to mating I'll stick with the "Waht's your sign" routine.

trailbee said...

If there are so many of these, what are they eating?????

Noons said...

They don't bother with eating, this si the mating call and it's the only thing in theor minds at this stage... ;)

Over here we get this every Spring: it is truly deafening!

STxRynn said...

I remember when I was a kid, I'd fall asleep at night to their singing. Invariably, just as I was dozing off, they'd all quit. I'd snap awake, then struggle to fall asleep in the quiet until they fired up again.

One of my earliest memories is catching one when I was little and turning it loose in the house. Seeing dad on the couch trying to catch it is burned in my memory.

Good stuff.

Shrimp said...

I grew up in PA, and don't miss them at all, now that I don't live there anymore.

Anonymous said...

Having grown up in the southern hemisphere, cicadas are associated with christmas. So when I was in North America and the cicadas started "singing" in June and July, I instinctively fellt like christmas was just around the corner.

Mario in PY

Anonymous said...

I have a friend who lives in Arizona. I was driving over the edge of the valley she lives in when I was bombarded by these waves of sound. It was so loud I thought it was some manufacturing sound and asked her how she stood it. She said, no, it was just the cicadas. That repetitive wave-after-wave of vibrating sound drove me mad!