THE CICADA SINGS IT'S FROSTY SONG...

August 2, 2020

 

I started hearing the cicada's singing here in Maine about a week ago. In Iowa, my source for such information Steve Gottschalk, says he heard his first song back on July 9th. So why would you care? Well, according to folklore the first shrill melody of the cicada is an indicator of when the first frost will occur. My mom passed that along to me many years ago and I always think of her when the cicada are doing their thing like they are now.

 

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.

 

There is a weather folklore saying that you can determine the first frost after hearing the first dog day cicada sing. I mentioned earlier that Steve heard his in Lowden, Iowa on July 9th, which he claims is 5 to 6 days later than usual. There are 3 variations of the saying: the frost will occur 12 weeks after, 90 days after and 3 months after the first song. Based on the 9th of July, the first frost will occur as follows under one of those guidelines:

 

12 weeks - Oct. 1st

90 days - Oct. 7th

3 months - Oct. 9th

 

On most any hazy lazy day of summer now you can hear the male "dog day" cicada's calling for females high in the trees.The love song is created by vibrating membranes on their abdomen. Dog day cicada's as their name implies are found 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!

 

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 the bark of trees or just laying in the grass below them. 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, or so we thought. Here's what a shell/casing looks like.

Anyway, if our singing artist the Cicada is correct, in approximately 2 months we should be seeing the first visit from good old Jack Frost. As an added bonus, we've got a taste of fall to enjoy in the coming week to 10 days. For example, here are the lows that are showing up on the GFS for Tuesday morning. How 'bout those upper 40s and low 50s!

These are the temperature departures for the next 5 days on the EURO  More than 10 degrees below normal.

 Here's the 5-10 day departures the 6th through the 11th.

As for showers, there will be a few of those scattered around Sunday and Monday as the cool air gets established. For the most part these will be in the light side and seem more likely in the southern half of my area. After that, indications are that little if any rain falls until Friday at the earliest as forcing and moisture is limited. August will get off to a comfortable start around the central Midwest. Roll weather...TS

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© 2019 Terry Swails