It’s Been One Noisy Summer

Because it’s been so beastly hot in these parts lately, I decided to water our flowers, shrubs, and trees the other evening.

Now I’ve never been convinced that city water, from a hose, does as much good as the rain that Mother Nature sends, but I suppose some moisture is better than nothing.

As I watered what I call Domer’s tree (a large maple that was planted when he was just a little guy), I noticed something creepy on one of the branches. Here’s what I saw:

Eeew, creepy!

Eeew, creepy!

I turned the hose full onto it, finally shaking it down to the ground. Then I made my way to the backyard and found this:

Another one, just like the other one

Another one, just like the other one

Nasty-looking, aren’t they? Do you have them where you live? Do you know what they are?

This is technically an exuvia, the abandoned exoskeleton of some variety of Cicada. Often called “locusts” but not really the same species at all, Cicada adults have wide-spaced red eyes and look like creatures from another planet. Reportedly, they don’t bite or sting humans, though who wants to pick one up to see if that’s true??

Neither are they poison. In fact, some parts of the world consider them edible. Eeew!

According to Wikipedia, Cicadas can produce sounds up to 120 dB, loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss if they’re sitting right outside your ear. Over Labor day weekend, they reached such a frenzied pitch that we heard them inside, with the windows shut and the A/C on!

When Domer was little, we called them “wind-up bugs” because their mating call starts kind of low and builds in intensity (rather like one of those McDonald’s Happy Meal toys).

By the way, it’s the males who make the most noise. The females are the ones who slit open the bark of trees to lay their eggs. The nymphs spend most of their lives beneath the ground, sucking root juice. When it’s time, they emerge, shed their skin for one last time, and race off to mate, starting the whole process anew.

Supposedly, some of these insects are on a 13-year cycle; others, a 17-year cycle. And stragglers can show up 1 to 4 years early or late.

Since the Cicada Map indicates that Central Illinois isn’t on the emergence cycle right now, I can only surmise we’ve got stragglers.

LOTS of them.

But last night’s cool front really helped to put an end to the din!

21 thoughts on “It’s Been One Noisy Summer

  1. I love the sound of cicadas in the summer. We’ve had some this year, but I’m hoping for an increased chorus in September. Sometimes they’re a little late. I heard one at work last week, and couldn’t locate him for the longest time. Finally – there he was on the spreaders of a sailboat! I suppose he figured he was more visible there. I wonder if he told his lady cicada he owned the boat?

    I wrote a haiku for cicadas once. I just found it:

    cicadas thrumming
    summer’s white noise droning on:
    silence of the trees

    • Well, Linda, I’m glad someone likes them, ha! Seriously, you’ve written a lovely haiku on what I think is a humble subject. I love the sound of crickets chirping in the late summer night, but the incessant humming of these cicadas is about to drive me nuts. I wish they’d all find their mates, get “the deed” done, and sink below ground again!

  2. We have lots of trees, but I have never seen a exuvia, but then we really haven’t visited by the
    Cicada for a few years. I’m not disappointed, they are yucky. It has been hot the last few day, but we cooled off last night and the humidity dropped considerable. I have a feeling we will be saying, “Cold enough for you” before long. A Facebook Aussie friend is spending a week with us in October and isn’t a fan of cold weather, I sure hope she is coming to visit for the company.

    • You don’t think you’ll have cold weather by October, do you?? It seems like summer got such a late start that I can’t imagine it getting cold in just two months (of course I’ve been wrong before!). I’d kind of like having a cooler Fall, actually. Poor doggie with all his furs is suffering on these sticky days.

  3. “Nasty-looking, aren’t they? Do you have them where you live? Do you know what they are?”

    Do you know what’s ironic, Debbie? One of my other blogging friends posted a photo of one of these bugs last week on her blog. She lives in New Jersey and sees them during the summer as well. I think she said that they are some kind of beetle?!?

    And now that you mentioned it, when I was kind, I remember hearing them outside as well. And yes, they were LOUD.

    Have a super week, dear lady. And Happy Memorial Day!


    • Ron, your other blogging friend might have beetles, but these things are cicadas. They’ve got wings and apparently can fly from one neighbor’s yard to another (making extermination futile!). Pity the poor bride hosting an outdoor wedding when one of these things drops into the fruit punch, ha!
      It’s amazing to hear how quiet it is today, now that they’ve obviously “done the deed” and either died off or whatever. I can almost hear a pin drop! NO WAY was that going to happy over the weekend — I felt rather like I was living at the airport!
      Happy Monday and holiday to you, and thanks for stopping by!

    • You’re right about them being ugly, Terri. And I think it must be pretty frightening to have one land on you! I guess we’re lucky that all they’ve been doing to this point is making a LOT of noise!

  4. I didn’t see AZ on the chart, but we have clicking and buzzing bugs that are like cicadas. My kids caught several of them over the summer and kept them in a container for a little while. They were freaky looking. (Of course, I took pictures…from a distance!) In the evenings we get a deafening chorus of crickets. I swear, I have to the turn up the TV a few notches once they get going. I have the windows open, but still…

    Oh, and in my opinion, the leftover shell from any creature makes my skin crawl. My older son has found two snake skins and I’m just hoping I don’t meet the owner of either of them.

    • Snake skins ARE yucky, Janna. I found one in the back yard a week or so ago and used a shovel to scoop it up and toss it over the fence into a field. I don’t even want to think about where its owner is!

      I don’t mind the crickets’ noise too much. Generally, that seems to take place in the evening. The cicadas, however, are going ALL day long, and I find that wearing.

      Aren’t boys great? They just love picking up nasty bugs and things and bringing them to mama!!

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