Don’t forget your Cicada gear!!

It’s that time of year.  Hot muggy days. Spot showers and thunderstorms.  Counting the days left before school begins. And a “buzz” in the air.  Yep –those PIA cicadas. Like you, I’m fascinated by the noise, habits, and rituals of these not so pretty insects. I think it’s cool how one starts to buzz, and others jump in, joining one another in chorus, (something not surprisingly called “chorusing”. Cicadas are fascinating insects that have a rich history and interesting trivia associated with them, dating back thousands of years. I jumped on the web and dug out some cool info I think you’ll enjoy.  And although some folks may find them appetizing, I’m not one to try them! Special thanks to Wikipedia,,, Smithsonian, and for the info. Enjoy the buzzzzz!

Cool Videos:


  • A cicada is an insect belonging to the order Hemiptera.. They are well-known for their distinctive songs, particularly the loud buzzing or whirring sounds produced by the males. Cicadas have a unique life cycle and are categorized into two main groups: annual cicadas (think every summer) and periodical cicadas 13-17 years in “broods”.

  • Cicadas are relatively large insects, typically ranging from about 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 centimeters) in length, depending on the species. They have two pairs of membranous wings that are transparent or slightly opaque. The front wings are larger than the hind wings and are held roof-like over the abdomen when at rest.
  • Male cicadas produce loud calls by using specialized structures called tymbals, which are located on their abdomen. They generate these sounds as part of their mating behavior.
  • In Greek mythology, cicadas were linked to the Muses – nine goddesses. It was believed that the music and songs of the cicadas were a form of divine inspiration that connected them to the arts and creativity.
  • The periodical cicadas, also known as “Brood X,” are one of the most well-known cicada groups in the United States. They emerge every 13-17 years in massive numbers.
  • In some cultures, cicadas have religious connotations. In ancient Greece, they were associated with Apollo, the god of music, poetry, and the sun. In Japan, cicadas are considered symbols of summer and are associated with Hachiman, the god of war and agriculture.

  • The noise produced by cicadas is a fascinating aspect of their biology and behavior. The sounds they make are primarily produced by male cicadas as a means of communication and attracting mates. Cicada noises have evolved over millions of years as an essential part of their reproductive behavior and survival strategies.
  • Here’s the science behind cicada noises: Cicadas have specialized structures called tymbals, which are drum-like membranes located on either side of their abdomen. These tymbals consist of a series of ribs that can rapidly contract and relax, producing a clicking or snapping sound. The cicada’s tymbal muscles contract, causing the tymbals to buckle inward. When the muscles relax, the tymbals snap back to their original position. This action creates a distinct sound.
  • The abdomen of male cicadas is typically hollow, acting as a resonance chamber that amplifies the sound produced by the tymbals. The sound is further amplified as it resonates through the insect’s exoskeleton.
  • In some species, male cicadas synchronize their calls to create a chorus effect.This behavior is known as “chorusing” and serves to increase the overall volume and attract more females.
  • Interestingly, cicadas also use their calls for thermoregulation. The heat generated during the rapid muscle contractions helps warm the insect’s body, making it more active in cooler conditions.
  • Brood X, also known as the Great Eastern Brood, is one of the most remarkable groups of periodical cicadas in the United States. emerging en masse at regular intervals, typically every 13 or 17 years. Brood X is particularly notable for its large numbers and widespread distribution, found in the eastern United States, covering states such as Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington D.C. When the temperature warms in the spring, cicadas rise up from the dirt. The raucous four to six week-long event rages until all the participants die and litter the forest floor.

  • Once emerged, the male cicadas begin their loud, distinctive calling songs to attract females. After mating, the females lay their eggs in small branches of trees. Once hatched, the nymphs fall to the ground, where they burrow into the soil and begin their 17-year underground development.
  • A full-scale cicadas can reach a deafening crescendo as millions of males all call for mates at the same time. The amorous din can reach roughly 100 decibels, which is just shy of standing three feet from a chainsaw.
  • Scientists from the Navy’s Undersea Warfare Center have studied cicadas in hopes of figuring out how male cicadas manage to produce their incredibly noisy mating calls without expending much effort. The idea is that a device that mimicked a cicada’s method of sound production could be used for remote sensing underwater or ship-to-ship communications.
  • In the summertime, two-inch-long wasps called cicada killers are as single-minded as their name suggests. After mating, females take to the skies to do nothing but hunt bumbling cicadas. When a female cicada killer grapples with her quarry in mid-air, she uses a honking, needle-sharp stinger to pierce the cicada’s hard exoskeleton and inject a venom that paralyzes the victim. After dragging her immobilized prey into a special chamber she’s hollowed out along her burrow, the female wasp lays a single egg on the cicada and seals the chamber’s entrance. In two or three days, the larval wasp will hatch and begin eating the paralyzed cicada alive over the course of a week or two. Nature’s incredible cycle at its best.
  • Cicada Cookie recipe!

Yummmmm!!!!!! :))))))



Me, too.

As you may know the Kowalski Heat Treating logo finds its way
into the visuals of my Friday posts.
I.  Love.  My.  Logo.
One week there could be three logos.
The next week there could be 15 logos.
And sometimes the logo is very small or just a partial logo showing.
But there are always logos in some of the pictures.
So, I challenge you, my beloved readers, to count them and send me a
quick email with the total number of logos in the Friday post.
On the following Tuesday I’ll pick a winner from the correct answers
and send that lucky person some great KHT swag.
So, start counting and good luck!  
Oh, and the logos at the very top header don’t count.
Got it? Good.  :-))))
Have fun!!



The periodic Cicada. Read on…  And check out the videos below.

It’s the “dog days” of summer here in NE Ohio and I’m lovin’ it.  (bonus trivia:  the ancient Romans called the hottest, most humid days of summer “diēs caniculārēs” or “dog days.” The name came about because they associated the hottest days of summer with the star Sirius, known as the “Dog Star” because it was the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (Large Dog).  When I was a kid, I tried to get everything in these last few weeks before school started.  Football practice (two-a-days) was a rite of hubris passage.  The days are sticky, and the nights are starting to cool down with just the slightest dew on the lawns in the morning.  This time of year, one of my favorite things to do is kick back in a lounge chair and listen to the songs of the cicadas.  I love the way their piercing sound cuts through the daytime air, reminding me to stay outside and enjoy the weather as long as possible. Now Jackie on the other hand can’t fall asleep to their “beautiful” music! I realized I really don’t know much about the cicadas (other than they buzz and are pretty ugly looking), so I went to my favorite Wikipedia to learn more.  Enjoy the info, and the next time someone remarks about them, you can be the “cliff klavin” in the group who says …. “did you know, the cicadas…”

  1. The cicadas are a superfamily, the Cicadoidea of insects in the order Hemiptera (true bugs). They are in a suborder with smaller jumping bugs such as leafhoppers and froghoppers, with more than 3,000 species described from around the world.
  2. Cicadas have prominent eyes set wide apart, short antennae, and membranous front wings. They also have three small ocelli located on the top of the head in a triangle between the two large eyes, with mouthparts that form a long sharp rostrum that they insert into plants to feed.
  3. The “singing” of male cicadas is not stridulation such as many familiar species of insects produce, crickets, for example.  They have an exceptionally loud song, produced by vibrating drum like tymbals rapidly. Comparatively large insects, they are conspicuous by the courtship calls of the males. The male abdomen is largely hollow, and acts as a sound box. By rapidly vibrating these membranes, a cicada combines the clicks into apparently continuous notes, and enlarged chambers derived from the tracheae serve as resonance chambers with which it amplifies the sound. The cicada also modulates the song by positioning its abdomen toward or away from the substrate. Partly by the pattern in which it combines the clicks, each species produces its own distinctive mating songs and acoustic signals, ensuring that the song attracts only appropriate mates.
  4. The adult insect, known as an imago, is 1-2 inches in total length in most species, with a wingspan of about 3-4 inches.  The largest species is the Malaysian emperor cicada with a wingspan of up to about 8 inches (yikes!).
  5. The surface of the forewing is super-hydrophobic; it is covered with minute waxy cones, blunt spikes that create a water-repellent film. Rain rolls across the surface, removing dirt in the process. In the absence of rain, dew condenses on the wings. When the droplets coalesce, they leap several millimetres into the air, which also serves to clean the wings.
  6. Cicadas typically live in trees, feeding on watery sap from xylem tissue and laying their eggs in a slit in the bark. Most cicadas are cryptic, singing at night to avoid predators. The annual cicadas are species that emerge every year. Though they have life cycles that can vary from one to nine or more years as underground larvae, their emergence above ground as adults is not synchronized so some appear every year.  The periodic cicadas spend most of their lives as underground nymphs, emerging only after 13 or 17 years, which may reduce losses by starving their predators and eventually emerging in huge numbers that overwhelm and satiate any remaining predators.
  7. In some species of cicada, the males remain in one location and call to attract females. Sometimes several males aggregate and call in chorus. In other species, the males move from place to place, usually with quieter calls while searching for females.
  8. For the human ear, it is often difficult to tell precisely where a cicada song originates. The pitch is nearly constant, the sound is continuous to the human ear, and cicadas sing in scattered groups. In addition to the mating song, many species have a distinct distress call, usually a broken and erratic sound emitted by the insect when seized or panicked. Some species also have courtship songs, generally quieter, and produced after a female has been drawn to the calling song. Males also produce encounter calls, whether in courtship or to maintain personal space within choruses.
  9. Cicadas have been featured in literature since the time of Homer’s Iliad, and as motifs in art from the Chinese Shang dynasty. They have been used in myths and folklore to represent carefree living and immortality. Cicadas are eaten in various countries, including China, where the nymphs are served deep-fried in Shandong cuisine.
  10. Cicadas are commonly eaten by birds and sometimes by squirrels, as well as bats, wasps, mantises, spiders and robber flies. In times of mass emergence of cicadas, various amphibians, fish, reptiles, mammals and birds change their foraging habits so as to benefit from the glut. Newly hatched nymphs may be eaten by ants, and nymphs living underground are preyed on by burrowing mammals like moles.
  11. Cicadas have been featured in literature since the time of Homer’s Iliad, and as motifs in decorative art from the Chinese Shang dynasty (1766–1122 BC.).  They are described by Aristotle in his History of Animals and by Pliny the Elder in his Natural History; their mechanism of sound production is mentioned by Hesiod in his poem Works and Days “when the Skolymus flowers, and the tuneful Tettix sitting on his tree in the weary summer season pours forth from under his wings his shrill song”.
  12. Cicadas have been used as money, in folk medicine, to forecast the weather, to provide song (in China), and in folklore and myths around the world.  In France, the cicada represents the folklore of Provence and the Mediterranean cities.
  13. In the Chinese tradition, the cicada symbolizes rebirth and immortality. In Japan, the cicada is associated with the summer season; the song of Meimuna opalifera, called “tsuku-tsuku boshi”, is said to indicate the end of summer, and it is called so because of its particular call.
  14. In the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, the goddess Aphrodite retells the legend of how Eos, the goddess of the dawn, requested Zeus to let her lover Tithonus live forever as an immortal.  Zeus granted her request, but, because Eos forgot to ask him to also make Tithonus ageless, Tithonus never died, but he did grow old. Eventually, he became so tiny and shriveled that he turned into the first cicada.
  15. Cicadas were eaten in Ancient Greece, and are consumed today in China, both as adults and (more often) as nymphs, in Malaysia, Burma, Latin America, North America, and central Africa female cicadas are prized for being meatier.  Shells of cicadas are employed in traditional Chinese medicines, and some are fried and eaten as a protein source (crunch, eeeewww).
  16. Cicadas are not major agricultural pests but in some outbreak years, trees may be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of females laying their eggs in the shoots. Small trees may wilt, and larger trees may lose small branches.  Cicadas sometimes cause damage to amenity shrubs and trees, mainly in the form of scarring left on tree branches where the females laid their eggs. Branches of young trees may die as a result.

INTERESTING CICADA VIDEOS                               

(left) A great BBC four minute Cicada docudrama.
(right) A close-up of a summer cicada making some noise by a guy in Franconia, PA. One minute.

COOL CICADA MUSIC VIDEOS                                

(left) Cicada Serenade by The Pheromones. A really fun music video.
(center) Hannah Gansen sings about a love affair seventeen years in the making.
(right) “I Ate A Cicada Today” An excerpt from a CD by the author, illustrator, songwriter, Jeff Crossan.