Cicadas here in the Sonoran desert start singing around Father’s Day and can be found throughout the summer. Because they are so abundant, you might not take a second look at them.
While out picking blueberries recently, a California woman did notice a cicada and she took a photograph of it. After she uploaded the photo the iNaturalist, an expert realized it wasn’t any old cicada. The cicada belongs to the species Okanagana arctostaphylae, which hasn’t been seen in over a century!
Right in time for Father’s Day, we heard our first cicada singing yesterday.
It seems like the local Arizona species of cicadas always start singing the third week of June, or around Father’s Day. They are highly predictable.
Of course our annual cicadas aren’t as wondrous as the red-eyed periodical cicadas.
(Public domain illustration by Snodgrass from Wikimedia).
You have probably heard about periodical cicadas. The adults emerge in large groups after long period underground. Some come out every 13 years. Others spend a whopping 17 years underground.
(Public domain photograph of 17-year cicadas from Wikimedia).
How easy is it to predict when a given insect will emerge or arrive in a certain area? The annual emergence or migrations of insects may depend on weather factors, such as temperature, winds, rains, etc. Those in turn change the availability and timing of host plants, which influence insect development. Insect emergence is often unpredictable, although scientists have created complex mathematical models to track certain pest species.
Cicadas, on the other hand, are protected underground. They also feed on fairly stable hosts, namely trees. Perhaps it is a combination of those factors that allow cicadas to be so predictable relative to other insects.
By the way, some broods of the periodical cicada are emerging in 2015, mainly along the Mississippi River basin area. Check Magicicada.org for more details and links to citizen science projects.
Are the cicadas singing where you live? Have you ever seen an emergence of the periodical cicada?