Cicada sounds and more: Fun facts about the the cicada bugs


(Patterson Clark/The Washington Post)

Dan Babbitt of the National Museum of Natural History’s Insect Zoo came up with cool things about the bugs that some people — maybe your parents — think are just a bother.

1. Cicadas can survive a huge fall as babies, or nymphs. They are about the size of a grain of rice when they drop from a tree branch to the ground and start digging.

2. The loud whirring or buzzing sound you hear is an all-male cicada chorus. (Females make a much quieter sound by flicking their wings.) Cicadas don’t sing at night, so don’t blame them if you can’t sleep.

3. They’re true bugs (from the order Hemiptera). So you can call them a bug and be scientifically accurate.

4. Most have red-orange eyes. But occasionally cicadas have blue, white or grayish eyes. Keep on the lookout.

5. Females may be attracted to the sound of motors. So you get to watch your dad, mom or older sibling get swarmed while they’re using the lawn mower or power tools.

6. Their short adult life is not unusual for bugs. The adult stage for many insects is only for finding a mate or moving to a new location.

7. They improve lawns by digging tunnels that allow air into the soil. When they die, their rotting bodies put nitrogen into the soil.

8. Their predators, or animals that will eat them, don’t know they’re coming. Lots of animals, including birds, mice and raccoons, are in for a bug surprise!

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