I am dog-tired from the Entomological Meeting, so how about some pretty sounds from the “Dog Days” of summer? I could use a mini-vacation right now.
This little video introduces you to one of the cicadas of the midwest, Tibicen dorsatus. They have the nickname of “Dog Day Cicada.” This beautiful (and big!) cicada doesn’t have the elaborate life cycle structure of the 17- or 13-year periodical cicada species. Periodical cicadas emerge all at once in a few spectacular days of noisy orgy before disappearing again for over a decade.
Annual cicada generations overlap, so every summer you can find them making a racket. That doesn’t mean their life cycle is just one year though–their emergence is just not synchronized to happen all at once. After 3 or 4 years sucking on roots, the nymphs will emerge and mate. Eggs are laid each year, ensuring that we’ll have sounds of summer in the future.
Entomological trivia: some really wonderful cicada mythology from Greece. Did you know cicadas are mentioned in the Iliad? That link also contains a translation of this lovely greek poem from 1st Century, BCE:
The Cicada to the Cricket
O cricket, you who soothe my passion and provide the consolation of sleep;
O cricket, shrill-winged rustic Muse;
You natural imitator of the lyre, sing for me some poignant song
As you tap with your charming feet and strum your loquacious wings,
So as to relieve me from toilsome worry that completely deprives me of sleep
As, o cricket, you spin out a song that dispatches Eros.
Then I shall give you as gifts, first thing in the morning, an evergreen leek
Along with dewy droplets that I separate with my mouth.
The Cricket to the Cicada
O resonant cicada, drunk on dewy droplets.
You sing your rustic song that sounds in lonely places.
Perched with your saw-like limbs, high up among the leaves
You shrill forth the lyre’s tune with your sun-darkened body.
But, dear friend, sound forth something new for the woodland nymphs,
A divertissement, chirping a tune for Pan as the song which you sing in your turn,
So that I, escaping from Eros, can catch some noon-time sleep
While reclining there under the shady plane tree.