Sunday, August 21, 2011
Some cicada species live underground for many years. 13 years is one, along with the well known 17 year cicada. But our common cicada is only underground one year.
Cicadas are in the group of insects called Hemiptera, or True Bugs. This group of insects all have straw-like sucking mouth parts and most use their "straw" to pierce plant tissue and suck out nourishment from the plant. After mating, female cicadas lay eggs in the stems of tree branches. The hatchlings drop to the ground and burrow down to one of the tree's roots. They attach their straw like mouth to the root and stay attached for the next year, growing as the tree feeds them.
After their year in the ground the larvae crawl out on a late summer night and climb a few feet up the trunk of the tree. In the picture below you can see the shell left after they emerge from the ground with the dirt still attached.
Cicadas are very heavy bodied insects and not very good fliers.
The females listen for the "singing" males, and pick one out that sounds perfect to her. She then flies to the tree and locates the male by his buzzing call. After introductions, if all goes well, they mate and the female then finds an appropriate branch to lay her eggs in.
Hearing the cicadas always means the peak of summer is past, and I'd better enjoy what is left.