The Return of the Cicada

Summer doesn’t really make itself known until the cicada emerges from slits in the bark of the olive tree. They typically live in trees and feed off of the sap. I do not think these are periodic cicadas because I see them every summer. The periodic cicada emerges every 13 to 17 years, and arrive in such large numbers that they overwhelm the predator population. This gives the cicadas a chance to survive, and to begin the process all over again. There are over 1,300 species, many of which have not been listed, so I shall call my cicadas the “Anza Borrego Cicada.” It is my story and I shall call them what I want to! Cicadas have been written about in myths and folklore since the beginning of the written word, and represent immortality and a laid back life style. 

When the “Anza Borrego Cicadas” make themselves known in the desert, it is usually after a couple of days that are cooler, and lukewarm, balmy nights. June gloom has hit the coastal areas and because of milder temperatures inland, the desert has cooled off considerably. The sky is cloudy and the sunlight diffused and much less intense. When the song of the cicada is added to the mix~ it is the call of summer to me. Their song can be heard mostly at night so that they can avoid being eaten, but when a bird or other predator is chasing after one, they screech for dear life. The sound is produced not by stridulation, but by vibrating like the beating of a drum; only really, really, fast! I suppose if you slowed it down considerably, you would be able to hear a thump-thumping beat. I actually like the sound and it reminds me of the tropics. It can be deafening at night, and when you hear the cicada and the male mockingbird singing it’s heart out in the middle of the night, summer is in full swing mode.

This morning when Callie and I were enjoying her usual climb up her beloved olive trees, we saw several cicadas crawl out from their hiding places. One in particular; in its nymp state, had left the eco-skeleton behind, clinging tightly to the curb by the pool. The actual cicada has beautiful membranous wings that are clear and you can see through them and are quite extraordinary. I find them to be a beautiful insect and because they don’t bite and stay clear of you; totally benign. They are quite a feast for all the birds that toughen it out over the summer, including the roadrunner. 





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