SONG OF THE CICADA

It’s 8:35 PM on a Thursday night. A contingent of Cicadas has chosen this moment to tune up their choir for a concert. I am always amazed and delighted by the ardor of male cicadas at producing such an incredibly loud buzzing song in order to attract females.

Cicada exoskeleton

In Colorado there are twenty-nine species of Cicadas. The chorus I’m hearing is probably produced by one of the Megatibicen group, the “Dog Day” Cicadas. They are the loudest and largest of Colorado’s Cicadas and are abundant in foothills and urban areas along the Front Range, especially along waterways. 

Cicadas are among the longest lived of all insects. They take three to five years to develop into adults, and some take as long as eight years. The nymphs develop underground, sucking fluid from the roots of grasses, shrubs and trees. When full grown, they emerge from the soil, crawl up a nearby plant and emerge from their exoskeleton. The new adult hangs around for several hours while their new exoskeleton hardens and their wings fill with blood. The adult then flies away. 

The males gather in big groups for periodic song fests until they have mated After mating, the adult females insert their eggs into the stems of plants. After four to six weeks of singing and enjoying the sunshine, the adults die. So be amazed and enjoy their singing while they are here.

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