Sunday, December 10, 2006

cicadas

Growing up in Australia leaves vivid memories of blazing hot summers, trips to the beach and the deafening drone of cicadas pulsing through the air. Australian cicadas are the loudest insects in the world. At the retreat, male cicadas are mating at the moment which means they are singing their little socks off to attract females.

In Australia, children were the first to coin the common name for many cicadas - names that have been dutifully passed down from generation to generation of cicada hunters.

Probably the best known and most mysterious is the Black Prince, followed closely by the Green Grocer, the Double Drummer, the Cherrynose, the Floury Baker, and the Yellow Monday. The exact origin of most of these names is unclear, but the Yellow Monday and Green Grocer were in popular use as early as 1896.

Green Grocers tend to come out early in November and die out by the end of December. Black Princes and Floury Bakers start off at the end of December and go right through to February or March, while Red Eyes can still be found in the middle of February.

The Green Grocer, Yellow Monday and the Double Drummer produce noise intensity in excess of 120dB at close range (this is approaching the pain threshold of the human ear).

A little-known fact is that cicadas suffer from insect VD. Fungi attack the terminal portion of their abdominal cavity and genitalia - a cicada venereal disease. It is a fungus unique to cicadas and it usually makes their tail ends drop off.

Most people are also probably unaware that the cicada can make a very tasty meal. Many people around the world regularly eat cicadas, usually as an addition to their regular diet.

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