Why do Cicadas make such a loud racket during the summer?
You get up every morning, grab some breakfast, and then it's off to work or school. Then suddenly you hear a loud, steady, buzzy, screech in the trees. Cicadas are behind all that racket. And they have their reasons for raising the din.
Cicadas make music a little differently than regular crickets who use two parts of their body and rub them together, according to Christopher Koerner, who owns Ozane Pest Control and Insectropolis in Toms River with his family..
He says cicadas are "driving a drum-like membrane in their exoskeleton. When their muscles contract...it produces a snapping sound. So you don't hear the individual snaps because this is happening...300 to 400 times a second".
The abdomen of the cicada is mostly hollow, Koerner explains, which amplifies the sound. "They can produce between 100-120 decibels, which is like holding a chainsaw in your hand."
We can now better understand how the cicadas make their noise, but why they do it...that's something you might not have realized.
"This is a mating call," said Koerner. "The male cicada produces this sound to attract nearby females, and the female cicadas will respond by snapping at their wings."
Even further he adds is that females don't make as loud of a sound as the male cicadas. Koerner says as they get closer to the female, the male will "soften its call."
The male has two weeks to find a mate. "Once the female is mated...she will cut a 'y' shape slit in the bark of a twig and deposit about twenty eggs."
The female usually lays almost 600 eggs. However, life as a male cicada isn't all glamorous after mating. In fact, it's really short, especially after becoming a winged adult.
"After the male cicada mates, it typically just dies," said Koerner. Why? There are theories. "If predators are feeding on the dead males, they'll probably leave the females alone."
Birds and wasps are among the enemies of cicadas, which emerge only during the summer months and vocalize for six to eight weeks, according to Koerner.
"They only live for about two weeks as an adult above ground," said Koerner. "The reason that it goes for eight weeks is that they're not all emerging during the same weeks."
There are also two different types of cicadas he adds, one being annual cicadas which comeback yearly and have the two-to-five-year life span. Then there are the periodical cicadas, which can live for about 17 years.
What have your interactions or experiences been with cicadas? Do you find them annoying or enjoyable?
Drop us a comment and let us know.