Why Are Cicadas So Loud? Unraveling Nature’s Boisterous Mystery

Cicadas are fascinating insects known for their deafening sounds during certain times of the year. You might wonder why cicadas are so loud and what purpose their noise serves. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind the volume of cicadas and their unique behaviors.

The loud noise produced by male cicadas comes from a pair of tymbals, which are ridged membranes found on their first abdominal segment. When these tymbals vibrate, they generate the distinctive cicada song. The hollow abdomen of the male cicada acts as a resonating chamber, amplifying the sound and creating a chorus that can be almost unbearable at times Behavior | Cicadas.

This overwhelming sound plays a crucial role in the cicadas’ life cycle. It helps the male cicadas attract females for mating, and serves as a means of communication. Additionally, the sheer volume of their chorus provides a survival mechanism, allowing them to avoid predators by drowning out their own sounds or even overwhelming the predators with the sheer number of cicadas present Cicadas in Maryland.

Why Cicadas are Loud?

Cicadas are a fascinating group of insects often associated with the sound of summer. The loud music created by these creatures can be quite captivating, but have you ever wondered why cicadas are so loud?

One reason for their loudness is to attract mates. Male cicadas are responsible for producing these sounds, using specialized structures called tymbals. These organs are located on their abdomen and can create astonishingly loud noises when vibrated rapidly. By producing such high-volume calls, they increase their chances of attracting female cicadas for mating.

The structure of the male cicada’s abdomen also plays a role in amplifying their calls. Their abdomen is mostly hollow, which acts as a resonating chamber, enhancing the sound produced by the tymbals. Imagine it’s like a built-in speaker that amplifies sounds to a much higher level.

Cicadas are known for their impressive choruses during the warm summer months. When large groups of these insects get together and sing in unison, the noise can be almost deafening. This is one way they manage to stand out in a noisy environment filled with other competing sounds.

In conclusion, cicadas achieve their loudness through the unique combination of specialized organs, body structure, and group behavior.

The Anatomy Behind the Noise

The Tymbal Organ

The tymbal organ is a key component in cicada sound production. It consists of rib-like bands on a membrane, which can be rapidly vibrated by special muscles. This unique structure enables male cicadas to produce loud buzzing sounds when they’re looking for a mate. The tymbal organ is responsible for generating the initial sound wave, which then travels through the cicada’s abdomen to be amplified and projected to the surroundings.

The Abdominal Segment

The abdomen of male cicadas is almost completely hollow, which plays a crucial role in the sound amplification process. When sound waves from the tymbal organ enter this hollow area, they bounce around inside the abdominal chamber, resulting in the loud, characteristic noise we associate with cicadas. This hollow abdominal segment not only amplifies the sound but also gives it a distinct tonality, making it easily recognizable.

The Air Sacs

Cicadas come equipped with air sacs, which are essentially open spaces in their body cavity that aid in the resonance and amplification of sounds. These air sacs are thought to enhance the volume and pitch of the cicada’s calls, contributing to the overall intensity of their songs. So, when combined with the tymbal organ and the abdominal segment, these air sacs allow cicadas to produce deafening noise levels that can reach up to 90-100 decibels.

In summary, the loud noise produced by cicadas is the result of intricate anatomical features working in harmony. This includes the tymbal organ, which generates the initial sound; the abdominal segment, acting as an echo chamber; and the air sacs, providing resonance and amplification. All these elements come together to create the unmistakable sounds of cicadas that fill the air during their mating season.

The Role of Sound in Cicadas’ Lives

Mating Call

Male cicadas produce a distinctive mating call to attract females for reproduction. Using a pair of tymbals, or ridged membranes, on their abdominal segment, they create loud songs that can be heard from afar. Their hollow abdomen allows the sound to be amplified, making the call even louder.

Warning Call

In addition to mating calls, cicadas also produce warning calls to alert others of potential danger. These calls can help ensure the safety of the entire population by signaling the presence of predators or other threats.

Distress Sound

Cicadas may emit a distress sound when they feel threatened or are in danger. This distinctive noise can serve as a last resort to help the insect escape from harm.

Breaking down the different sounds:

  • Mating Call
    • Produced by male cicadas to attract females
    • Loud and amplified by the hollow abdomen
  • Warning Call
    • Alerts others of potential dangers or predators
  • Distress Sound
    • Emitted when cicadas feel threatened or in danger

In summary, cicadas use sound in various ways to communicate with each other, find mates, and protect themselves from danger. As you observe these fascinating insects, take note of the diverse range of sounds they produce and the vital role they play in their lives.

Different Types of Cicada Sounds

High-Pitched Buzzing

One distinct sound produced by cicadas is a high-pitched buzzing. This sound is created by male cicadas to attract potential mates. When they produce this sound, their tymbals vibrate, and the hollow abdomen amplifies the sound, making it louder1. For example, it can be similar to the buzzing of a lawnmower or a power tool2. Keep in mind that large choruses of cicadas can make noises that are even louder and more pronounced.

Clicking Sound

Another characteristic noise of cicadas is the clicking sound. It’s different from the high-pitched buzzing and may occur as part of their unique communication methods. Though not as prominent as the buzzing sound, the clicking noise also plays a role in their mating calls and defense strategies.

In summary, cicadas produce a variety of sounds, mainly for attracting mates and communication. These sounds, including high-pitched buzzing and clicking, are amplified by their hollow abdomen, resulting in the loud, distinctive noises we associate with these insects.

Broods of Cicadas and Their Unique Sounds

Brood X

Brood X, also known as the Great Eastern Brood, is one of the largest and most well-known broods of periodical cicadas. Emerging every 17 years, these cicadas are known for their distinctive and loud sound. The song they produce has a unique pitch due to the male cicada’s hollow abdomen, which acts as a resonating chamber, amplifying the sound produced by their tymbals source.

During the few weeks when Brood X cicadas emerge, their populations can reach densities of up to 1.5 million per acre, making their soundscape quite prominent source.

Periodical Cicadas

Periodical cicadas are among the most curious cicada species due to their synchronized mass emergence in broods. Unlike their annual cicada cousins, periodical cicadas belong to the Magicicada genus and only emerge every 13 or 17 years source. These insects have developed a unique survival strategy, known as predator satiation, in which their overwhelming numbers and synchronized emergence help protect them from predators.

Different broods of periodical cicadas produce various sounds, depending on their species, size, and shape of the abdomen. As for Brood XIX, it’s known for a notable pattern of reproductive character displacement. In areas where Magicicada neotredecim comes in contact with another 13-year species, M. tredecim, the dominant male call pitch is approximately 1.7 kHz. Outside the contact zone, its call pitch is around 1.4 kHz, identical to that of other species in the brood.

It’s no doubt that cicadas, particularly periodical cicadas and their distinctive broods, have evolved to create unique and mesmerizing sounds. Their fascinating behavior and biology contribute to the diverse and enchanting songs of our natural environment.

Remember, while cicadas’ loud songs can be a fascinating natural phenomenon, be cautious when exposed to their large choruses, as noise levels have been reported to reach between 90 and 100 decibels which can be harmful to human hearing source.

The Impact of Cicadas’ Sound

Effect on Human Ear

Cicadas are known for their loud, buzzing sound, which can be quite intense. In fact, their noise levels can reach 90-100 decibels, which is similar to a lawnmower or motorcycle. This loud sound can be bothersome, but it is unlikely to damage your hearing unless you are exposed to it for extended periods.

Predator Deterrent

One reason cicadas make such loud sounds is to deter potential predators. Their loud noise may confuse or disorient predators, making it difficult for them to locate the insect. This serves as a defense mechanism, helping cicadas avoid becoming a meal for other creatures.

Environmental Nuisance

While cicadas can be fascinating, their loud noise can also create an environmental nuisance for humans and other animals. The incessant buzzing can disturb outdoor activities and make it difficult to enjoy a peaceful moment in nature during cicada season. In some cases, their sound can even interfere with cognitive functioning and be disruptive to people who are sensitive to noise. However, it’s essential to remember that their presence is only temporary, and they play a crucial role in the ecosystem.

To summarize, cicadas produce their loud sound for various reasons, including attracting mates and deterring predators. Although this noise can be bothersome to some, it is vital to appreciate the role cicadas play in our environment and recognize their fascinating behavior.

North American Cicadas

Magicicada Cassini

The Magicicada Cassini, also known as the Cassini periodical cicada, is a species found in North America. These cicadas are famous for their distinctive, loud songs, which males produce to attract females. A key feature of Magicicada Cassini is their 17-year life cycle, with the majority being underground as nymphs before emerging in large numbers.

To give you an idea, the noise produced by a Magicicada Cassini chorus can reach up to 90 – 100 decibels, which is comparable to the sound of a lawn mower or a motorcycle.

Magicicada Septendecim

Another North American cicada species is the Magicicada Septendecim. Like the Cassini, this species has a 17-year life cycle and spends most of its life underground as nymphs. The males produce a unique song to attract females, composed of high-pitched calls and clicks.

Though still loud, the Magicicada Septendecim song reaches slightly lower decibel levels than the Magicicada Cassini, making it more tolerable to human ears.

Magicicada Septendecula

The Magicicada Septendecula is the third main cicada species in North America. While its life cycle is also 17 years, it differs from the Cassini and Septendecim species in terms of its song and geographical distribution. The Septendecula’s song utilizes lower frequencies and has a less pronounced call compared to the other two species.

Here’s a brief comparison table to show you the differences between the three species:

Magicicada Cassini Magicicada Septendecim Magicicada Septendecula
Life Cycle 17 Years 17 Years 17 Years
Song High Pitched Buzz High Pitched Calls & Clicks Low Frequency, Soft Call
Decibel 90 – 100 dB Lower than Cassini Lower than Cassini

Now you know more about these fascinating cicadas, their unique characteristics, and why they are so loud. Enjoy these incredible insects during their brief yet noisy appearances above ground!

Cicada Species in Other Parts of the World

You’ll be amazed to find out that there are over 3000 cicada species across the world, showcasing an incredible diversity among these fascinating insects. Each species has its own unique features, contributing to the wide range of sounds and patterns displayed by cicadas.

For example, in Asia, some cultures regard cicadas as symbols of re-birth, health, wealth, and happiness. This cultural significance has led to inspiration in art, music, and theater.

Now, let’s take a quick look at some cicada species found in different continents:

  • North America: The periodical cicadas, known for their 13-year and 17-year life cycles, are found almost exclusively to this continent.
  • Europe: The New Forest cicada, endemic to the UK, faces the threat of extinction due to habitat loss.
  • Asia: The Walker’s Cicada, native to Japan, has an interesting color pattern resembling a wasp or hornet.
  • Australia: The Double Drummer cicada is known for producing some of the loudest sounds among insects, reaching up to 120 decibels.

We can also compare some of the common cicada species based on their features:

Cicada Species Location Unique Features
Periodical Cicada North America 13-year and 17-year life cycles.
New Forest Cicada United Kingdom Endangered due to habitat loss.
Walker’s Cicada Japan Color pattern mimics wasps or hornets.
Double Drummer Cicada Australia Loudest insect, up to 120 decibels.

Different species of cicadas thrive in various parts of the world, each with their own unique characteristics and sounds. Their diversity and adaptations play a vital role in their survival and impact on the ecosystem.

Cicadas and Their Cultural Significance

Cicadas in Music

Cicadas have a unique sound that fills the air every spring. Male cicadas produce these loud choruses to attract females for mating. Their sounds can reach noise levels ranging from 90 to 100 decibels. The loud, continuous noise may remind you of a musical instrument.

As a culturally significant symbol, cicadas have inspired various forms of art. For example, in some Asian cultures, cicadas have been used in music and theater to symbolize rebirth, health, wealth, and happiness. Their distinct sounds can add a natural and intriguing element to musical compositions.

Cicadas in Chicago

At the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago, you can learn about the local species of cicadas and their impact on the city’s environment. These insects are often associated with the arrival of spring, and their disappearance in the fall can signal the changing of seasons.

In Chicago, like in other places, cicadas play an essential role in the ecosystem. Their genes contribute to the genetic diversity of the insect population. As cicadas emerge from their underground burrows, they become a food source for various animals, such as birds, reptiles, and smaller insects, and benefit the environment by aerating the soil when they burrow.

To sum it up, cicadas’ loud sounds and unique characteristics have made them a topic of fascination for their cultural significance in music and their impact on cities like Chicago. So next time you hear their loud mating calls, remember the role they play in both art and nature.

Footnotes

  1. Sounds of Cicadas | Ask A Biologist

  2. Cicadas in Florida – UF/IFAS Extension Nassau County

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Massive Cicada from Borneo

 

Large cicada, borneo
Sun, Mar 15, 2009 at 6:36 PM
I was accosted by this cicada at Sabah, Borneo Island, at the start of March. It was as big as my hand – the biggest flying insect I have seen. Do you know what it is ?
Thanks, Ben D
Borneo

Huge Cicada from Borneo
Huge Cicada from Borneo

Goodness Gracious Ben,
That is one huge Cicada. Sadly, we haven’t the time to try to research the species, but we are confident that one of our readers will soon supply us with an identification.

Update: Wed, Mar 18, 2009 at 5:21 AM
Hi Daniel and Ben:
Other than its incredible size, this cicada doesn’t have too many distinctive features to help with positive identification. However, based on size and general appearance this looks like it is probably in the genus Pomponia, which includes most of the world’s largest cicadas. At least half a dozen Pomponia species have been recorded from Borneo, but based on visible thoracic and wing markings I suspect it may be P. merula. However, there are several other possibilities, including P. imperatoria which is the largest, and by some accounts the loudest cicada on the planet. It has a reported wingspan of 20 cm! Regards.
Karl 

Letter 2 – Mating Annual Cicadas

 

Thought you might like this
Ater takig this photo i started snooping the web. Found your site and it was very usefull Feel free to post the pic as well as credit for the pic. I think i was very lucky getting this
Joe Tasse

Hi Joe,
We are thrilled to post the image you provided of mating Cicadas. In the past 24 hours, we have gotten numerous submissions of mating activity.

Letter 3 – Mantis and Cicada

 

some photos for you
I happened across your web site today. I enjoyed all the pictures and letters. I though I’d send a few of my own bug pictures. The first few are obvious, they were found on the wall in front of my house. The second pair I happened to open the front door and posing prettily on my door was this Praying Mantis. They are very patient creatures I can say. I went in and out the door a few times and it never even budged. The last is one of my favorites. I was cutting the grass in the back yard and had to re-fuel the weed whacker. When I bent down to put gas in it I looked and this most wondrous site of a Cicada drying it’s wings after leaving it"s larvae shell. Most wondrous indeed! Summer is coming, I will surely take some more and pass them along if you’d like.
Benz in Gilbertsville PA

Hi Benz,
Thanks for sending in your photos. We especially like the mantis photo with the view of the yard.

Letter 4 – Mating Dogday Harvestflies and Feline Spectator

 

funny cicada foto from joanne
Dan and Lisa!
I wanted to share this goofy photo I took yesterday morning in Darien, IL. I call it "Ian Likes to Watch." Ian is our cat. He sniffed at them then walked away. Poor bugs can’t get any privacy!
Joanne

Hi Joanne,
This has to be one of the funniest Bug Love images we have ever received. Thanks for sending it.

Letter 5 – Mating Dogday Harvestflies, AKA Annual Cicadas

 

Hello
Hi, bugman
8/21/08 My name is Siegrid, live in Washington, NJ (Warren). My mom and I walk path wood in Merrick Creek, NJ. I walk notice saw on path ground, show my mom saw it. That Cicadas mating, I think that brighter green male and dull green dark female, I think sure and get picture. Thank you
Siegrid Werner

Hi Siegrid,
Thank you for sending us this photo of mating Annual Cicadas or Dogday Harvestflies. We would not use coloration as a means of identifying the sexes. We found a website on the Periodical Cicada that has a great explanation on how to differentiate the sexes of Cicadas. In a paragraph entitled Song of Cicadas, Mike Raupp writes: “You can tell the male because he has a blunt abdomen. It’s rounded on the back, blunt abdomen. But if we lift up the wing and look very carefully just beneath the wing, we’ll see an organ called the tymbal organ. That white membrane at the end of my thumb– you can see it vibrating– is how he makes that sound, and it’s only the male that will call.”

Letter 6 – Green Grocer Cicada from Australia: Loudest Insect in the World!!!

 

What`s this?
Hello Bugman,
we live in Melbourne, Australia and found this green giant somewhat in our garden. It flew away making a tremendous noise (like a helicopter taking off) 😉 . Can You tell us what that is? Regards,
Dr. Christian Karcher M.D.
VIC Australia

Hi Christian,
This is a Green Grocer Cicada, Cyclochila australasiae. According to the Scribbly Gum Website, the Green Grocer Cicada is the loudest insect in the world.

Letter 7 – Hieroglyphic Cicada rescued from Toads

 

cicadas are my new best friend
July 24, 2009
i’ve never seen such a small cicada around here before, but i found this little neocicada hieroglyphica last night under the light by my garage, cornered by two toads who were trying to catch it. it crawled onto my hand and hung on tight for about an hour, any port in a storm i guess. it was a little less than an inch long, and crawled enthusiastically toward the clicking sound of my camera’s focus. i assume it thought my camera was hitting on it. cicadas have a one track mind.
rebekah
summerville, sc

Hieroglyphic Cicada
Hieroglyphic Cicada

Dear Rebekah,
Thanks so much for sending us your wonderful images of a Hieroglyphic Cicada and for providing such an entertaining narrative.  We are linking to the BugGuide information page on Neocicada hieroglyphica.

Hieroglyphic Cicada
Hieroglyphic Cicada

Letter 8 – Immature Hemipterans on Cicada Exoskeleton

 

Litte red bugs, on a cicada shell?
August 7, 2009
I found these little red bugs which look like ants with tiny antennas all over a cicada shell. I have no idea what they are!
Shannon
Oklahoma

Hemipteran Nymphs on Cicada Exoskeleton
Hemipteran Nymphs on Cicada Exoskeleton

Dear Shannon,
All we are able to determine from your photo is that these are immature Hemipterans, but why they are on the Cicada exoskeleton is the curious question.  We believe the Hemipterans might be immature Milkweed Assassin Bugs, but your photo lacks the detail necessary to be certain.  It is possible there were fluids left after the Cicada metamorphosis, and the Assassin Nymphs are feeding on the fluids.

Letter 9 – Immature Cicada

 

Green Bee?
April 6, 2010
I accidently dug this fascinating creature out of the ground near my peonies while doing some spring gardening in Boise, Idaho. It’s a beautiful light jade color, and looks like some sort of wasp… a member of the Halictidae family, perhaps? Its wings are just stubs and its ability to walk leaves something to be desired. It stumbles around blindly. A juvenile or a queen?
Thank you! Johanna
Boise, Idaho

Cicada Nymph

Hi Johanna,
This is a Cicada Nymph.  Immature Cicadas live underground where they feed on the sap in roots.  They metamorphose into winged adults that resemble large flies.  We have never seen a photo of a Cicada Nymph with such lovely coloration.  Alas, we do not know the species.

Cicada Nymph

After posting, we found a match on BugGuide identified as being in the genus Platypedia.

Well, hot diggity! Thanks! So what should I do with it now? It was dug up from within the soil, so I can’t really put it back. (Can I?) Will it survive if I set it on the ground under the flowers where I found it? Wikipedia informs me that cicadas are damaging to plants, but to heck with my plants. I don’t want to kill this lil’ guy, nor have it die simply because I disturbed his home. Is it too late? He’s sitting in a jar of dirt right now, and seems to be happy enough.
Johanna

Hi again Johanna,
We would recommend putting it back where you found it.  If the soil was freshly turned, the immature Cicada should be able to dig back underground.

Letter 10 – Jumping Spider captures Cicada in Mindanao Philippines

 

spider ate the cicada
July 2, 2010
i saw the carnage link and i think this might interest you. my husband took this picture. one day he was in our farm, he heard a cicada doing its loud sound nearby. suddenly it stopped like it got squashed. he was sure he didn’t step on it so he looked around and saw this! he found this spider (smaller than the cicada!) biting the cicada’s head! and it won’t let go. i don’t know the exact id on both insects but it sure is fascinating. poor cicada. amazing spider. 🙂
joy
found in our farm in northern mindanao (south of the Philippines)

Jumping Spider feasts on Cicada

Hi Joy,
First we must make a point of clarification.  Our Unnecessary Carnage pages are devoted to creatures whose untimely demises are directly related to human intervention.  We also have a Food Chain tag that is devoted to the web of life on our planet, and that is where your awesome photo will be archived.  Though we do not know the species, the spider is a Jumping Spider in the family Salticidae.

oops! i missed that tag and i dropped the “unnecessary”. 😛 sorry about that. i was too excited to share the picture. glad it’s worthy to be posted. hehe…
i have another huge insect that we found dead but i’m not sure what killed it… it looked like something with fangs bit it… may i post that under this tag? anyway I’ll send it and you’d know better 🙂
thanks for the info on the spider.

Letter 11 – Mating Annual Cicadas

 

Dogday Cicada Love
Location:  Trenton, NJ
August 17, 2010 9:21 pm
I was walking into work when behind me I heard the characteristic chatter of a cicada. I turned around to make sure I hadn’t stepped on him and saw this instead. I picked them up off the ground before I took the picture, so they could continue in peace without being squished.
Jen v

Mating Annual Cicadas

Hi Jen,
Your photo of mating Annual Cicadas in the genus
Tibicen is a wonderful addition to our website.

Letter 12 – Generation 2011 Mating Brood XIX Periodical 13 Year Cicadas

 

Mating Cicadas
Location: Cedar Hill Missouri
June 5, 2011 8:35 pm
Hello Bugman,
What kind of cicadas are these, such as year/scientific and common name? I would love to know!
Signature: Thanks!, Nathan Becker

Brood XIX 13 Year Cicadas Mating

Hi Nathan,
We are very thrilled to have received your photo of a mating pair of Brood XIX 13 Year Cicadas,
Magicicada tredecassini.  Here is the BugGuide information page on this species.  This map on BugGuide illustrates the range of the Great Southern Brood of Periodical Cicadas in the genus Magicicada.

Ed. Note: Though Brood XIX seems to be emerging throughout its range, we have not received reports of great numbers of Cicadas.  Is habitat destruction combined with Unnecessary Carnage beginning to contribute to a decline in the number of individuals?

Letter 13 – Mating Dogday Harvestflies

 

Large Flies Mating.
Location: Central Ontario,Canada
August 10, 2011 10:22 am
I was wondering if someone could tell me what on earth these flies are.I know what they are doing,that’s obvious.I have never seen them before up until the last week or so. My cat has been chasing them around on the deck,but I can never seem to get a picture of one until today. And behold I got two of them. I managed to get about 35 photos. They are rather large. the widest part of there upper body may span 3/4 of an inch. And a beautiful pattern on there front portion of there body. So any assistance would be great. Thank you so much.
Signature: Matt Hickey

Mating Annual Cicadas

Hi Matt,
We just finished posting an identification request for an Annual Cicada, and we remarked that in mid to late summer, we always get requests to identify enormous flies that are actually Annual Cicadas, sometimes called Harvestflies.  Just as we posted, your email arrived to substantiate our claim.  These are mating Annual Cicadas in the genus
Tibicen, and we believe they are Tibicen canicularis, Dogday Harvestflies or Northern Dog-Day Cicadas.  You can read details about this species on BugGuide.

Mating Annual Cicadas

Thank you so much for your quick response. We have lived at our current location for over 15 years and have never come across these Flies before. It is amazing. Just when you think you know it all.

Letter 14 – Ironbark Cicada from Australia

 

Happy New Year
Location: Queensland, Australia
December 31, 2011 8:01 pm
Hi guys,
Happy New year to all, hope it is another great one for bugs.
Thought you might like this shot of an Ironbark Cicada. They are emerging in great numbers right now following a quite wet December. This is about as big as they come, I have seen ones only half this size so perhaps the difference is gender.
They don’t make a lot of noise and will scurry around to the other side of the tree as you walk around trying to spot them. Very frustrating.
Signature: Aussietrev

Ironbark Cicada from Australia

Happy New Year to you as well Trevor.
Thanks for thinking of us and sending your wonderful photo of a new Australian Cicada species for our site.  We found a page devoted to Cicadas in the genus
Burbunga from Australia that are called Bark Cicadas, but other than that, we cannot locate much information.  The hiding behavior you describe is typical of many of the Leafhoppers and Treehoppers that are classified with Cicadas in the superfamily Cicadoidea.

Letter 15 – Magicicada: Brood II

 

Subject: Yellow eyed Magicicada
Location: Manassas, Virginia
May 28, 2013 3:41 pm
Found this cutie hanging out in the garden!
Signature: Katie

Magicicada:  Brood
Magicicada: Brood II

Hi Katie,
We are very excited.  This is our first image of Brood II of the 17 Year Cicada this year.
P.S.  Nice tattoo. We color corrected your image and the color looks great.  

Letter 16 – Hairy Cicada from Patagonia: Possibly Tettigades chilensis

 

Subject:  Patagonian Cicadas
Geographic location of the bug:  Argentine Patagonia
Date: 09/05/2017
Time: 07:09 AM EDT
We visit Patagonia regularly to photograph plants. One Cicada species is particularly common on the dry steppe and mountain slopes of central Patagonia in spring and early summer (Image 1 – dark species). The second image (green species) I photographed shortly after emerging from its nymph stage – this one is from northern Argentine Patagonia (Neuquen Province). Any idea of genus / species?
How you want your letter signed:  Martin

Hairy Cicada: Tettigades chilensis???

Dear Martin,
The most obvious, unusual feature exhibited by the Cicadas in your images is their furriness, so we started our search with that in mind and quickly found this Cicada Mania posting of
Tettigades chilensis with the headline “one fuzzy cicada.”  The species is also pictured on FlickR, and we found an image from Chile on Coppermine Gallery.  If that is not the species, we believe we at least have the genus correct.  We suspect your second image is the teneral color of the newly metamorphosed Cicada and that it will darken.  Considering the furriness evident in your image, it would not be a leap to assume they might be the same species.  Thanks for sending in this exciting submission.

Teneral Cicada: Tettigades chilensis???

Hi Daniel,
Many thanks for your prompt reply. It certainly looks to be the same species.
Regards,
Martin

Letter 17 – Mating Cicadas

 

Subject:  Big fly looking insect
Geographic location of the bug:  North america
Date: 09/10/2018
Time: 06:02 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi! I’ve seen this type of bug before but usually they lay on the sidewalk.  I live in chicago illinois but I’m curious as to find what kind of bug it is and info on it.
Thank you :]
How you want your letter signed:  Sincerely, Marlene

Mating Cicadas

Dear Marlene,
These are mating Annual Cicadas.  You list the location of the sighting as North America, and then you state you live in Chicago, but it is unclear if the image was taken in Chicago.  Because of the white spots that are so prominent on these Cicadas, we believe that based on BugGuide images, they are Scissor Grinders.

Letter 18 – Mating Brood X Periodical Cicadas

 

Subject :  Copulating and Singing Brood 10 Cicadas
Geographic location of the bug:  Gaithersburg, Maryland
Date: 06/14/2021
Time: 07:18 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I found these two Cicadas lying in the middle of the road and decided to get them out of harms way and get a closer look.  This is screen shot from a video.  The disengaged and flew off about 15 minutes later.  Then without harming another cicada, I made a video of him singing and this is a screen shot from that video with a closeup of the organ used to do it. It is the gray triangular area.  This cicada flew off as soon as I released its wings.
How you want your letter signed:  NancyA

Mating Brood X Periodical Cicadas

Dear NancyA,
Thank you so much for sending in your excellent Brood X Periodical Cicada images.  Even in Los Angeles, our local news seems to have daily reports on the Brood X emergence.

Periodical Cicada

Authors

  • Daniel Marlos

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

24 thoughts on “Why Are Cicadas So Loud? Unraveling Nature’s Boisterous Mystery”

  1. Great story, lovely pictures. I especially like the one of the wee cicada peering curiously at the camera!

    Cicadas are probably some of the most adorable insects around, with their wide faces and tiny eyes and inoffensive demeanor.

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  2. hey bug people!
    these tiny little “red ants” are actually box elder beetles. the adults are about 3/4 of an inch long, black w/ orange markings.

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  3. I live about 2 hours south of Nathan. I don’t remember the last round of 13-year cicadas (if that was 13 years ago then I was 8 at the time), but they seem pretty thick here. They’re very easily heard outside. My sister lives in a bigger town, though, and she said she rarely hears them there. It makes sense, I guess, since there might be fewer trees. I have seen cicadas in my trees and I have found a cicada shell already. They seem pretty thick here, at least from my experience.

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  4. Seeing this photo reminds me of our visit to Royal Mulu National Park in September 2005. It was the breeding season for these cicadas and all of the trees surrounding the lodge were covered in them. The noise was incredible. In the evening we had to walk from our room to the restaurant and the cicadas were activated by the lights along the walkway. We were mobbed every night. The worst bit was trying to evacuate the ones that managed to get into our room! A truly fantastic experience

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    • We are thrilled to find that you found your Cicada encounter to be a fantastic experience. Other tourists might consider such a trip an ill-timed nightmare.

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  5. Not milkweed assassins in Oklahoma since Zelus longipes is a coastal species. I doubt they are assassins, actually. I was thinking coreids but box elder bugs (Rhopalidae) are a possibility so let’s say something in the Coreoidea.

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  6. I had the opportunity to spend 2 months in eastern Borneo back in 1987. I even brought back a dead specimen (my parents recenty disposed ts dusty remains). The sound of these flies is pretty much that of a helicopter, and had a deep impact on me. A bit scary, I admit 😀

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  7. Is it possible to find something like that in Serbia? I saw some creature on my window yesterday. First, I thought it was a bat until it landed. Then I saw it’s looking like wasp, just much much bigger. It was so big that I refused to believe in possibility to be an insect. Then I took a closer look. It definitely was an insect. I think it was trying to find way into the house since outer temperature wasn’t over 20 degrees Celsius. Soon I lost it from the sight but as I remember the body was looking pretty much as wasp and wings were black with something white in the middle. I would say the size was about 7-10cm long and two fingers wide, cylindrical shaped. When it landed wings were stretched a little outward so when you look at them they were forming a triangle. First I thought it was some kind of hornet that grew in place with high level of radiation or something. But then I did some google research and found pictures of the insect called Tacua Speciosa. First it associated me with the insect I saw, but further more I found even more similar Tosena fasciata. Now, I’m pretty sure it was Toscena, or looking very much like it. So, is it possible to find it in Serbia (central Europe climate)?

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  8. I was stationed at RAF Tawau in Sabah N. Borneo in 1966 (Yes I missed the world cup!)
    These monster insects would appear in regular waves sounding more like a mini – doodlebug than an insect. Although my bed was protected by a mosquito net, the tin roofed huts were open sided and these “things” would regularly (and noisily) invade.
    Between the Fruit bats and the Cicada, a night on guard duty was never boring !!

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  9. I was stationed at RAF Tawau in Sabah N. Borneo in 1966 (Yes I missed the world cup!)
    These monster insects would appear in regular waves sounding more like a mini – doodlebug than an insect. Although my bed was protected by a mosquito net, the tin roofed huts were open sided and these “things” would regularly (and noisily) invade.
    Between the Fruit bats and the Cicada, a night on guard duty was never boring !!

    Reply
  10. I accidentally unearthed a cicada nymph this morning. I put it back kind of where it was. Then I wanted to see if anyone else had done this, wondering if it’ll be ok.
    WELL. This just feels like my grandpa (an entomologist) wanted to let me know the answerto my question… my name is also Johanna.
    Cheers,
    Johanna

    Reply
  11. I accidentally unearthed a cicada nymph this morning. I put it back kind of where it was. Then I wanted to see if anyone else had done this, wondering if it’ll be ok.
    WELL. This just feels like my grandpa (an entomologist) wanted to let me know the answerto my question… my name is also Johanna.
    Cheers,
    Johanna

    Reply
  12. Oh wow, this takes me back. I lived in Brunei on Borneo 1987-1990 and these guys were everywhere. They were usually called “Borneo Beetles” by us Dutch and English expats. They were… let’s say “inefficient” at taking off to fly and just the noise would scare the crap out of you if they did so nearby. They would also crowd lamps to the point where the lamp might as well not be there as so little light could get through.

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  13. I lived in Brunei, Borneo with my sister and ex pat parents for the first 9 years of my life and we loved what we called the Borneo Flies. We found, that when they landed, they seemed to like the hard mound on their heads stroked. It somehow calmed them. We also liked the ‘chic-chaks (transparent lizards) that laid their soft eggs in amongst our clothes. It was a fascinating place for insects of all kinds.

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