Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Little Singers in the Trees

An annual cicada's song is the music of August, a sonorous vocal offering from jeweled beings who emerge from the ground, shed their nymph skins, climb high into the light-filled trees and sing for a handful of days before expiring and returning to earth. It's a joyful and ecstatic element in the slow irrevocable turning of one season into another.

Only male cicadas sing but oh how they do sing, vibrating the complex abdominal membranes called tymbals over and over again to generate a raspy tune that will attract a mate. I have a lot to learn about identifying cicadas, but I think this one may be the bigger Linne's cicada rather than a Dog-day cicada. Whichever one it was, my little visitor was absolutely gorgeous.

I often find abandoned cicada shells on poplar trees in the Two Hundred Acre Wood but always feel fortunate when I encounter a newborn in all its pastel green splendor, sometimes still clinging to its discarded self. Imagos (adults) darken as their new exoskeletons harden and wings expand, but there is a fair bit of variation in coloration. Some will retain greenish wings all the days of their lives.

For the last week or two, Beau and I have been rescuing cicadas from sidewalks and roads and moving them to safe perches in or near mature trees where they will not be trampled by pedestrians, bicycles or moving cars. On early walks, we keep an eye out for them and always encounter at least two or three before we arrive home again.

Evenings, I take my mug of tea out to the garden and listen to cicada serenades before the sun goes down, and I shall be sad when I go outside one night, and there are no cicada songs to be heard.

1 comment:

Mystic Meandering said...

We don't seem to hear them yet. Plenty of crickets making a racket. We are now getting our July monsoon weather - rain. Everything here seems to be a month off. So maybe Cicadas will come later :)