Insect visitors at the summer's end
Since this is the time of the year when we are treated to the many sights and sounds of the insect world, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss one of these common animals we can see and hear at this time of the year, the Cicada fly.
This member of the insect family is one that is more often heard than seen. Usually occurring in late summer and early fall, its familiar buzzing call can be heard throughout the neighborhood. It is one of many plant and animal species that began to appear at the end of summer and signal the start of the season of autumn.
It has been estimated that there are about 2,500 species of Cicadas around the world. They primarily live in tropical climates and are very popular with human residents of their home areas. While they are known to cause minor damage to garden crops and small shrubs and trees, most of the time they are tolerated by their human neighbors.
As a youngster, I can remember searching along the many tree trunks in my neighborhood for the discarded exoskeleton left behind on the trunk of a tree after the insect shed this body part as they increased their body size. Sometimes, they are called Locusts, although they are unrelated to that family of insects. While harmless to humans they have been known to cause damage to garden crops and other plant species in an area. During the summer period their buzzing song can be heard through out a neighborhood. This sound is usually produced by the rubbing of special structures on its abdomen creating the buzzing sound we are most familiar with.
The drawings and pictures included with this article depict an adult Cicada attached to a tree trunk along with a drawing of one with its wings expanded prior to flight. Also, I have included a sketch of two exoskeleton remains of a Cicada prior to emerging from their shells during the process of molting into its final adult stage, demonstrating the availability of these outer shell remains that can be found on most trees in our neighborhoods at this time of the year. The Cicada is an interesting little animal as it does not bite or sting. It also has an interesting life cycle. After mating, the female of the species cuts slits into the bark of a twig where she deposits her eggs. She may continue this process until she has laid well over one hundred eggs. After hatching, the newborn drop to the ground where they burrow and remain for anywhere from two to five years. Most Cicadas have a life cycle from two to five years. There is a southern species that has a 17-year cycle. Some of these species are preyed upon by a few wasp species which help to control the cicada population.
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