June 23, 2017 / Modified jun 23, 2017 11:13 a.m.

Cicadas Soundtrack Arrival of Summer, Monsoon in Arizona

Region hosts more than four dozen species.

Cicada_hero Okanaga rubrovenosa is one of the most prominent cicada species found in the Southwest U.S.
Charles Hedgcock

If you have to go outside during these hot summer days, you’ll face not only blast-furnace heat but also the unmistakable cacophony of cicadas.

They’re noisy. But they don’t prey on other insects. And they hide when you go looking for them.

Cicadas are a harbinger of the arrival of summer and the monsoon in Arizona.

Gene Hall manages the University of Arizona’s insect collection. He anxiously awaits their distinctive buzzing sound each June.

“Cicadas are just another wonderful part of the diversity that we have here in the Southwest, and in particular the Sonoran Desert, because this region is so rich with species diversity for insects and other arthropods," he said.

"We have the highest amount of species diversity for invertebrates of those groups than anywhere else in the United States.”

Hall said cicadas are the loudest insects in our region and they thrive in the heat and dryness, which protects them from summer predators, who hide during the height of summer's heat. Arizona is host to about four dozen species of cicadas.

Hall said he expects to hear cicadas making their mating calls for another three or four weeks.

Hear Gene Hall talk about the insects' evaporative cooling abilities:

Arizona Science Desk
This story is from the Arizona Science Desk, a collaborative of the state's public radio stations, including NPR 89.1. Read more from the Arizona Science Desk.
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