June 12, 2015

Familiar Sounds of Summer

Some "singing cicadas" are associated with the monsoon but a bug expert disagrees.

Cicada spot
Carl Olson, Ph.D.



People in Southern Arizona are used to hearing a loud conspicuous shrill among trees and plants from May until September.

The source of the sound is most likely a type of cicada - a large insect with long transparent wings, which is most active during the hottest part of the year.

The males of this species are looking for love.

Carl Olson is an entomologist, who is known as the "bug man."

“Each different species of cicada has different strategies for keeping predators away from them but this one is just singing at the hottest part of the day, so that nothing else is active except the females and entomologists listening to them," said Olson, who recently retired from the University of Arizona.

While some people have grown to believe the cicada is a sign of the monsoon, Olson disagrees.

“I don’t think so, they’re as good as our weather man in doing that," he stated with a laugh.

"They’re always predicting hot, would be the way I see it. At least the ones that are out right now and saying, ‘it’s going to be hot and that’s when we’re going to get together,'" he added.

When they breed, the female lays her eggs on a plant or tree and the nymphs eventually go underground where they feed on roots before re-emerging as adults in a few years.

However, a different generation keeps the summer sounds going on annual basis.

By posting comments, you agree to our
AZPM encourages comments, but comments that contain profanity, unrelated information, threats, libel, defamatory statements, obscenities, pornography or that violate the law are not allowed. Comments that promote commercial products or services are not allowed. Comments in violation of this policy will be removed. Continued posting of comments that violate this policy will result in the commenter being banned from the site.

By submitting your comments, you hereby give AZPM the right to post your comments and potentially use them in any other form of media operated by this institution.
Arizona Public Media broadcast stations are licensed to the Arizona Board of Regents. Arizona Public Media and AZPM are registered trademarks of the Arizona Board of Regents.
The University of Arizona