About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

When the cicadas get loud, you know you're running out of summertime

Photo from Wikimedia Commons
On my walk in to Wild Birds Unlimited I found an exoskeleton of a cicada on a street light pole. Cicadas are found all around the world and there are about 10 species in Michigan.

BioKIDS exlpains: Newly-hatched cicadas climb or drop down to the ground from the branch their egg was in. They burrow into the ground and start feeding on the plant juices in roots. As they grow they shed their exoskeleton several times. They sometimes spend many years in the soil before they are finished growing. For some species it takes 13 years, others take 17, and some take less, but nobody knows exactly how long. Cicadas don't have strong effects on humans one way or another. They can be a nuisance when there are millions of them, but they don't bite or sting. When they are mature, they climb out of the ground and complete one final molt. They emerge as an adult cicada with wings, and fly away to find a mate. Once they become an adult they stop growing and do not molt again.

In my mind the buzzing sound they make is very much associated with late summer evenings. The sound comes from their tymbals, the corrugated exoskeleton on their torso that they contract and release. Cicada males make sounds to attract nearby females, who respond by snapping their wings.

Related Articles:
- Why should we care about birds? http://bit.ly/ztC1dt
- Beat winter blues with birdsong http://bit.ly/xdlTlB
- Flashdance: The Fireflies Mating Ritual http://bit.ly/ysuA9q
- What is a Slug? http://bit.ly/AlQwWS
- Sounds of Summer: Michigan Cicada http://bit.ly/xnUpVW

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