Cicada Summer

January 3, 2011 at 6:37 am | Posted in Nature | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,

Black Prince cicada on spotted gum

Empty cicada shell on tree
I heard a squawk, a bit like a chook being strangled, and looked up into the tree. An obviously young kookaburra hopped about on a branch, calling to its parent. Then I heard a familiar chuckle, coming from the next tree. The adult kooka had a large black cicada in its beak, but didn’t fly across to give it to the youngster. It chuckled again, and I realised it was calling for its baby to fly over for it.

The young one was the same size as its parent, and I marvelled at the speed that they grow. It hopped up and down a couple of times, getting up the courage to make the leap. The parent called again and the youngster took off. It flew a little unsteadily and landed right next to the adult, wobbling a little It then grabbed the live cicada, lifted its head and swallowed it whole. This was a really great incentive for the youngster to practice its flying. The kookas have done well this year; a veritable feast of cicadas has ensured many well-fed young.

The cicadas have all been Black Princes; no Greengrocers or Double Drummers among them. They have been plentiful and the noise they make is often so deafening that people have to almost shout to hear what someone is saying, even when standing beside them. It is the males that create this noise by vibrating their tymbals, drum-like organs found on their abdomens, to attract a female. That penetrating noise lets you know it really is summer, in light to heavily wooded parts of Australia – and we have plenty of trees where we live.

One day before Christmas, as I went out our back door, I saw something drop from the top of one of our large spotted gums. It was a cicada. When I looked more closely, I could see that the pale smooth new surface of the tree trunk was spotted all over with the black insects, gripping the bark with their claws. As I walked past, to get to the clothesline, some took off and flew all around and above me. I noticed quite a number on the ground, dead and dying. The ants had been at most of them, and only the hard shell of their heads, complete with popping eyes, and their brittle, clear, black-laced wings remained. They had mated and died; the final part of their life cycle completed.

It was only a few short weeks since they had emerged from the ground as nymphs in their original brown protective shells. The nymphs had lived for anything up to seven years underground, feeding on sap from tree roots. Then, something tells them it is time to emerge to mate. They clamber up a tree or post and shed their shell casings. These look like empty insect-shaped armoured tanks, clinging to tree trunks. They are no longer of use, and the cicadas that emerge take to the air for that last short, burst of life. 

(c)  Linda Visman

03 January 2011

Advertisements

2 Comments »

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

  1. I’ve never seen cicadas, but heard about them, and read of them in fiction stories. They look a bit like what we call Christmas Beetles, because they start singing late September through to December/early January here.

  2. These insects certainly make their presence felt.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.

The Curry Apple Orchard

A blog designed to remember the past and celebrate the present.

barsetshirediaries

A site for the Barsetshire Diaries Books and others

Cee's Photography

Learning and teaching the art of composition.

Leigh Warren :: Country Music Outlaw

The ramblings of Leigh Warren about himself, country music and maybe... well who knows

Diane Tibert

~ writer - editor - publisher ~

Looking Back

With Mick Roberts. Est. Online 2000

Explore China

Four weeks of flying, cycling, hiking, cruising, eating and exploring

Repurposed Genealogy

Explore What's Possible

Appalachian Ink ~ Home of Anna Wess (and Granny)

Home of Anna Wess, Writer & Ghost Chaser

Myths of the Mirror

Life is make believe, fantasy given form

Writing on the Pages of Life

Exploring, creating and celebrating the writing life

ME and the Boss

Motivation and life......lived and loved one day at a time.

QP and Eye

Easy Going Introvert Blogs Here

Our Rumbling Ocean

Every day brings new adventures

Victoria Norton

Short stories, poems, and comments on life.

Eatable

Making food intolerances tolerable

%d bloggers like this: