© 2019 Terry Swails

THE SONG OF THE CICADA RINGING IN MY EARS...

August 8, 2019

About 7 days ago I heard my first cicada. So what you say? Well, according to folklore, it's 6 weeks after the first song that a frost is possible. My mom Rose passed that along to me many years ago and I always think of her and the legend when I hear my first cicada sing. Even better, she 's so in tuned with the folklore that she typically calls me several days before I hear the singing myself, and we're only 30 miles apart! This year was no exception.

 

The sound that I'm talking about is not so much a song as it is a high pitched buzz. It's much like ringing in your ears only 10 times louder. When you get a swarm going at one time it can be downright deafening.

 

The high-pitched song is actually a mating call belted out by males. Each species has its own distinctive song that only attracts females of its own kind. This allows several different species to coexist.

On those hazy lazy days of summer, you can hear the male dog-day cicadas calling for females from high in the trees. Their love song is created by vibrating membranes on the abdomen. Dog-day cicadas, as their name implies, appear during the long, hot summer days of July and August.

 

Cicadas are the only insects capable of producing such a unique and loud sound. Some larger species can produce a call in excess of 120 decibels at close range. That's about the threshold where pain occurs in the human ear!

According to folk legend, when you hear the first song of the dog-day cicadas, it means there's just six weeks until frost. While this is far from a precise predictor, may say there is some merit to the claim. Count forward six weeks from the first time you hear this common late summer sound, and you'll have a very rough estimate of when the first cool shot of fall-like weather is likely. I put more stock in that than the actual occurrence of frost.

 

Another cool thing about cicada's is that as they turn into adults they leave a shell or nymph casing behind. It looks just like the cicada but its nothing more than a hard brown shell. We would find them as kids on trees or laying in the grass. We would light the shells on fire or crush them with shoes or hammers. I remember blowing up a shell with a lady finger firecracker! Harmless fun. Here's what a shell/casing looks like.

Well there's nothing frosty about the weather through this weekend. Chamber of commerce conditions are expected throughout the Midwest with partly to mostly sunny skies, reasonable humidity, and comfortable summer temperatures. So with the song of the cicada ringing in my ear I sign off. Roll weather...TS

ainfall forecast for my region ending Sunday night. Farmers, cut some hay!

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