Outdoors Journal: Sound of summer

  • Article by: JIM GILBERT
  • Updated: July 8, 2010 - 8:56 PM
Annual cicadas sing loudly and shrilly on summer days; the sometimes pulsating buzzing intensifies with warmth. The sound is made by the males.

Some attribute this sound to overhead utility wires vibrating on hot days, but it's not. The cicadas' sound is generated by vibrating membranes stretched over a pair of chambers situated on each side of the abdomen.

There are over 75 species of cicadas in North America. Most are large, black insects, about 1 1/2 to 2 inches long with green markings and clear wings. Their broad, blunt heads have widely separated, prominent compound eyes.

That's exactly what our annual cicada looks like. For most, their life cycle is completed in two to five years, with some adults appearing each summer.

JIM GILBERT

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