Thursday, January 30, 2014

Creature Feature #104: Cicada

There are numerous species of Cicada, spread throughout the world and present on every continent except Antarctica. They are characterized by their relatively large size, general shape and noisy nature. It is only the male that sings, and he does this to attract a mate. The sound is produced from part of his exoskeleton: known as a "tymbal". This is modified, forming a complex membrane with thinner portions that vibrate rapidly, resonating down his, mostly hollow, body. He can reach a volume of over 100 db. Both males and females have hearing organs, called tympana, but the male is able to disable his while singing. After mating, the female lays her eggs inside the bark of a tree. When they hatch, the nymphs tumble to the ground and burrow beneath. Here they spend the majority of their life, before taking on their final nymphal instar, crawling out and shedding their skin before calling, mating and dying.

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