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Creature Features

 

IThe Cicada

By Stacey Pakula
Some people call them the fire engines of the forest, others just find their loud calling irritating. Whether you know it or not, you have surely heard one of these insects, or more likely many of them calling at once, if you spent any time at the Prem Center in the last few weeks. They make a high pitch noise, starting with one insect until all of their friends join in for a cacophony of sound.
How do they make that noise? And why?
The sound is made by vibrating a pair of ribbed plates in amplifying cavities at the base of the abdomen.
They males of each species makes their distinctive noise to attract a mate. Of all the bugs on the planet, cicadas are the loudest, with sound able to travel a mile.
Of all the species of cicada, each makes its own noise. Females are able to distinguish between the sounds, even though they are very similar.
Different species can be heard at different times of the day. While some prefer mating during the day, others prefer the evening hours.
Fun Facts
Cicadas spend most of their lives as nymphs underground. This may be as long as 17 years. After morphing into adults, some cicadas live two to three weeks while others live only for a less than a day or two.
The female cicada can lay four hundred to six hundred eggs.
After the adults have mated both will die. (Photo courtesy of tlindenbaum)


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The Cicada