One often hears mention a cicada when paired with the ant, but this little animal has a dignity and a personality of its own that is worth telling. So here is an article dedicated to this little insect that is not particularly pleasing to the eye and which at times can also be annoying, if it makes too much noise during summer nights, when the windows are not closed due to the heat. Let's get to know his appearance and habits better.
Cicada: physical characteristics
This insect shows up in dark brown or green, usually does not exceed 5 centimeters in height and may at first glance look like a large fly. It is not and it is not even related since the two creatures do not belong to the same order. There cicada is of the Rhynchota.
Looking closely at cicadas, one realizes that they don't have that much in common with the flies they are confused with. This insect has a squat-shaped body and a very large head from which very short antennae and 3 primitive eyes, called ocelli, emerge. It has yes le transparent wings but which appear to be made of membrane and attached to the back. Particularly the belly: who would have thought that cicadas are among the animals that can show off enviable pectoral muscles. Striated muscles that the animal contracts to produce vibrations that give rise to that classic verse that we all associate with it.
There reproduction of cicadas occurs through eggs that the females lay in the plant tissues, in deformations that are called galls or pseudogalle. The larvae are underground and in order to move from one root to another, and eat them, they are equipped with legs on purpose to dig easily. For at least four years the cicadas remain in one larval state and only after this four years do they come out of the ground, in the sunlight, and begin their life as adults, as real cicadas, with the features we have already described. No more roots, when the cicada is on the surface, but the diet changes and becomes based on sap and vegetable juices that the animal is able to obtain thanks to an efficient punger-sucking mouth apparatus.
In proportion, as it passes 4 years as a larva, the cicada can count on an average life span of about 16 years. It is not dangerous for humans or even for other animals but it has several enemies both during the larval phase and during the "adult" one. In its first years of life they are the moles from which it must defend itself, when it begins to live on the surface it is hunted by grasshoppers and by various species of birds.
The cicada lives mainly in areas where the climate is mild and warm, the days are long and bright. It loves feeding on pine and olive tree sap. It goes without saying that we can find this animal in the Mediterranean areas. It is common for the cicada to risk dying from its own attraction to light. It gets so close that it eventually gets burned, it's not clear why it happens, why it endangers itself. It could be due to interference between the artificial light devices and the insects' internal navigation system.
The sound of the cicada is so well known that it may happen that someone knows the sound it produces but not its appearance. It is said "The chirping" of cicadas and it is the male who produces this sound through the stridulating organ, vibrates laminae composed of tendons, called timbales, located on the sides of the abdomen and the call is made more powerful by air chambers placed next to the laminae that function from real resonance boxes. The male of the cicada does not sing to delight our evenings or even for fun, but there is a sexual appeal function.
Females don't make the same noise, they make themselves heard much less. Their verse may seem like one snap of fingers produced by the rubbing of the wings. Also in this case there is a sexual goal: you want to attract the male.
The chatter produced by cicadas, combined with the noise of other insects can be relaxing for some. You will have happened to find yourself on a summer evening looking at the sky with the sun nature background. It can be enjoyable and inspiring. The effect is that of a distant chorus. If, on the other hand, we are in the company of only one cicada that has decided to keep us company, it can become quite unpleasant. It depends from cicada to cicada, for example the Australian one is tremendously noisy, it can emit 100 decibels at a frequency of 4.3 kHz.
Cicada in history
Today in most cases the cicada cannot count on one good reputation. Not being dangerous, it is not hated in the true sense of the term but it can certainly be presented as an annoying insect, due to the noise it produces, or as a slacker, when compared with the ant.
It wasn't always like that, though. Self let's go back through the years we discover that the Greeks and Romans considered cicadas a symbol of purity. They even thought that their body did not contain blood because they fed only on dew, obviously not so but this gives the idea of the fame that this animal once had.
From history to fairy tales and not written by any pen but by that of Aesop. In his writing he reminds us of the laziness of the cicada compared to the great industriousness of the ant which must then help it in view of the winter because it remains without food reserves. Aesop's fable has forever marked the fate of cicadas and the Bolognese saying derives from it "Gratar la panza alla zygala", scratch the cicada's belly, to indicate who the slackers.
Another reason cicadas get ridiculed is the eyes, a little protruding. It is said that a cuckoo was once building a house by dragging several logs up the stairs when a cicada started teasing him. Impatient, the cuckoo ran after her to a blacksmith's shop where he crushed her head, making his eyes pop out of their sockets.
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