The last period of Western Australias weather has been interesting to say the least. However after having a couple warm days I thought I would go and hunt some macro subjects. Success! My first Cicada of the season and with its familiar chirps heralding the warm seasons (30-45°C) I can finally shed some of this winter gear! But in honour of this lucky find, I will write this blog's first post about this chirpy species.
Cicadas are a noisey insect, perhaps the noisiest, often being considered the sound of spring and summer. In Australia there are more than 200 species identified with some ranging in sizes of a couple centimetres to almost 17cm(6.5 inches!). While there are a large amount of species currently alive and kicking, many share some common traits. The humble cicada spends the largest part of its life in a wingless larval stage in which they burrow and live underground for upto 17 years only then to surface, moult and fly off to eat, mate and die in a relatively short time.
During thier time searching for a mate, members of this insect family commonly feed on plant sap, congregating on the leaves and trunks of trees, and using a strong needle like mouth-piece to pierce the tough outer layer of the plant. Due to the large amount of sap some species can consume there has been reports of plant growth being affected. Despite this mouth piece, cicada don't bite, however thier claws are prickly to the touch and stronger than expected.
The sound of cicadas are well known, thier familiar chirp being commonplace in the warmer months accross Australia, however it is interesting to note that some species have a call/chirp as loud as a chainsaw or thunderclap, measuring at 120 decibels. Yep you read that right an insect has the noise capacity to force you to wear ear-plugs because it is physically painful, while this isnt commonplace it really places into perspective how much we underestimate a family of insects we often over look.
Next time you go for a bush walk or hike, take a moment to stop and listen to the summer chirps of native cicadas, and marvel at the fact that those songs were years in the making.