Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cicadas- key to madness

Many researchers and wildlife enthusiasts often get into the forest thereby avoiding the madness which has now become synonymous of the cities they live in and one does not easily believe if someone says that that working in the forests especially in the canopy is one sort of madness due to one little creature- “Cicadas”

Cicadas, harmless little insects, which feed on the sap of trees, are nice and gentle as long as they are in the soil, waiting for up to fourteen long years or so to metamorphose into flying adults. Once they have done so, their presence will never go un-noticed, for they develop with the ability of flight the ability to sing!

Their songs, so loud and ear piercing are highly capable of temporarily deafening ones ear and the continuous cyclic calls can push a person if exposed for sufficient time to a state of temporary state of madness and as a matter of fact new inventions borrowing natures concept have been made to stop criminals from escaping by exposing them to a beam of high frequency noise which effectively makes the person immobile.

These insects after their sudden emergence from the forest floor can be found on all vertical gradients from the floor, and their activity in the canopies seems to be the highest. They take off calling loud with a little disturbance and continue long after they reach to safety, they shoot drops of watery solution, which in fact is the excess sap of trees after the nutrients are absorbed, they sing in synchrony thereby enabling the females to choose the best contender to mate with and louder the call, better the survival of the male seems to be the rule of thumb but never do they trouble people in any other way.

The high frequency song is most of the time highly rhythmic and well co ordinate like that of an orchestra and is generated due to intense vibrations of the membranes in their exoskeleton and amplified many times to generate the loud song. After the act of mating, one by one all the cicadas die and the forest goes silent as it was, before the emergence of these singers and all that remains of them is a few molts on tree trunks, a few un eaten dead bodies and a new breed of cicadas waiting in the soil to emerge and begin the noisy maddening orchestra all over again!

1 comment:

  1. Here in St.Louis (heart of the city) the cicadas in Forest Park are SO loud, that one open-air musical performance at the Muny had to be postponed for about 15 mins because they were drowning out the orchestra! Everyone was laughing.

    The cicadas here are INCREDIBLY loud, and sing all times of the day and night!