Good Bug/Bad Bug
(updated Wednesday, 08/12/20)
Do you hear them, too?
WHEN? All day long they signal to others, just like them, in the area. They’ve come from beneath the ground to emerge from their nymph stage. Now the adults mate, lay eggs, and die. There are various species emerging at this time and Farmer Tom refers to the present noisy critters as “dog-day” cicadas.
According to “Garden Insects” by Whitney Cranshaw, dog-day cicadas are the largest cicadas in North America. They are found east of the Rockies.
Males make loud, droning buzzing calls during midsummer. Dog-day cicadas are sometimes known as annual cicadas, as adults are present each season. Nymphs require 2 to 5 years to complete development, however overlapping generations allow annual appearance.
Cicadas sing mostly during the day but depending on the species, there are exceptions. Most of the time, the night singing we hear is made by crickets or katydids. According to cicadamania.com, cicadas love the sun so rain and cloudy skies will decrease the likelihood of singing. Temperature also affects whether or not they will sing and if it is too cold or too hot they won’t sing. Tolerance for temperature depends on the species.
HOW DO THEY SING? Tiny muscles tug on the tymbals (whatever that is) causing them to vibrate quickly, causing noise (or “singing,” if preferred).
Here are some photos taken by Farmer Tom and his mighty I-phone camera over the last two days showing cicadas emerging from their nymph stage. Since they like rough surfaces to cling to as they climb out of their shells, these particular little tykes chose The Veggie Stand’s walls. Trees are another location to find empty shells.
WHAT’S NEXT? Eggs are laid in slits of young (new tree growth) twigs. They will hatch before Fall then fall to the ground where the 1st nymph stage buries under ground.
WHAT AREN’T THEY? They are not locusts. Early settlers incorrectly dubbed periodical cicadas “locusts”——a term appropriately applied only to certain migratory grasshoppers.
DAMAGE? Supposedly there is really little damage done to property during their life cycle so perhaps this bug could be considered an interesting summer bug rather than a good bug or bad bug.