Cicada Weather

These Neotibicen annual cicadas are more often heard than seen. When I do come across them, they’re usually dead. While their exoskeleton exuviae can be found gripping tree trunks under ten feet from the ground, the adults are usually way up in the tree, hidden by all that foliage. (You’d hide too, if giant wasps were hunting for you, and mammals treated you like crunchy snacks.)

This one burst into rattle close-by in an oak. As I was looking for it, it flew to this branch. I wanted to get a picture showing his top-side, but he took off, descended towards the nearby pond, which he landed on, before continuing out of sight. THe landing was sort of a bounce. Drinking or just an awkward flier?

This is an annual cicada, not a periodic one. Periodic cicadas are a different genus, have red eyes and show up in 17 year cycles. They spend 17 years underground sucking on tree roots in their larval form. Then they emerge en masse to mate. Masses of them. There was a big regional emergence of Brood II in 2013. Staten Island was the place to be then in the city. Paved over Brooklyn is not blessed with periodical cicadas, alas. You can see reports from 2013 here and here.

But back to our annual cicadas. They spend 3-4 years underground in their larval state, but since there’s a brood every year, we hear them (and sometimes see them) every summer.

That’s them screech-rattling in the trees, the whine rising and falling. It’s the males who rattle, advertising themselves to the females.

For the past few years, there’s been one or two across the street in the street trees or backyards beyond, but mostly the parks is where’ll you hear them. Look at all these species! Judging from their calls, this could be Swamp/Morning (Neotibicen tibicen) or Lyric (N. linnei).

2 Responses to “Cicada Weather”


  1. 1 Monica M July 24, 2019 at 8:04 am

    M.
    In my 64th year, you’ve shown me what that arboreal sound is in the dog days of summer. T.Y.

  2. 2 Ellen Brys July 24, 2019 at 8:09 pm

    I love cicadas! That wonderful sound of Summer. The markings are quite beautiful Egyptianesque to me. They were such an inspiration to jewelers in the age of Art Deco.


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