First of all, Gregory Vogt stopped by to let us know how the Spiders in Space were doing:
“The spiders made it to orbit Monday morning. The Space Shuttle Endeavour will rendezvous and dock with the International Space Station Wednesday morning. The spiders will be unstowed from Endeavour and transferred to the station Thursday morning. We should have the first pictures available for viewing by the weekend. Check out http://www.bioedonline.org.”
Should be interesting to see how the spiders do in space.
Periodical cicadas are also in the news. There is a large emergence of thirteen year cicadas, Magicicada tredecim, across the southeastern United States right now. They are called thirteen year cicadas because they stay underground as nymphs for thirteen years.
Have you ever seen an adult cicada emerge? Here is a time lapse video that shows the process.
Edit: At the request of readers, I have removed the video because of the noise. You can watch it at Mark Dolies’ link.
Video by Mark Dolejs (click the link to see how he made the video).
BugGuide has some good still photographs and more information.
A few weeks ago in Summer Sounds 1, we saw the adult cicada.
If you have cicadas around, you may have found some of these.
It is the dried “skin” or exoskeleton of the cicada nymph. Cicada nymphs spend a year or more underground feeding on tree roots. When they are ready to emerge as adults, they dig out of the ground, crawl up onto a tree or the side of a building, and shed their exoskeleton for the last time.
A few days ago we dug up something really cool in the garden.
What is this weird grub? It is a live cicada nymph! Check out the white eyes. They were eerie.
It was really clumsy and kept rolling onto its back.
On its back, it was easier to see the large front legs used for digging, with dark claws. In between the front legs is the tube mouth the cicada uses to suck on tree roots.
You can see those things in the shed exoskeleton as well.
Note: if you have one of shells, examine it closely. In the back where the skin has split you can often see tiny white threads. Those are the reminants of the cicadas breathing tubes, called trachae.
After a few photos, the cicada nymph went back into the soil. Hopefully, it will be singing in the trees someday soon.
Cicadas are large insects with bulging eyes. This one is whitish because it has a fungal disease.
Father’s Day marks the beginning of the cicada season here in the Sonoran Desert. The emergence of these noisy insects predicts the beginning of a change in the weather, with higher humidity and the onset of the violent rains called monsoons. Unlike the spectacular periodical cicadas, our cicadas emerge every year. They sing on and off for a month or so.
Ever wondered how the cicadas produce their loud buzz? On the sides of the male cicadas (although some females have them, too) are two thin areas called tymbals. When muscles inside pull on the tymbals, they collapse causing a click. When the muscles release, the tymbal clicks again as it snaps back.
The video of the tymbal moving in slow motion at Discovery Channel’s Time Warp: Cicada Sounds is very cool. The tymbal is the white area that is moving in and out. Too bad there isn’t any sound to go with it. Note: the short advertisement at the beginning of this video may not be appropriate for young children.
According to the schedule, the entire Time Warp episode with the cicada footage (it is called Stuntmen) is being aired on the Discovery Channel on Monday June 21 at 9:00 am. It is rated TV-PG. It might be a fun way to start summer.