While working in the yard I came across an interesting mystery bug that is still making itself known in a big way this time of year by its buzzing call from the trees. Few people ever actually see the perpetrator of this incessant calling that can become rather annoying if there are large numbers of this insect.
Do you recognize the famous cicada? This true bug (Homoptera) is the less famous member of the group since it is an annual cicada, whereas the periodical (13 or 17 year) “locust” is infamous for its loud calls by the males and enormous numbers in years that it emerges. Adults of the so-called annual cicada are present every year although the nymphs live for 2-5+ years underground before emerging to sing, mate and lay their eggs inside twigs.
For the most part cicadas are harmless except that in large numbers their egg-laying can damage trees. Their singing is an icon of Summertime and adds a wonderful audio component to our enjoyment of nature. Those who grew up in the country may find the loud calls of cicadas and katydids soothing and a good background for sleep. City folk may have a very different opinion!
So listen for the sound of the cicada and ponder the mystery of their long larval life underground followed by a brief period of reproduction in the forest canopy. Another of nature’s strange life histories!
Bill Dunson, Englewood, FL & Galax, VA