Monday, July 13, 2009

What Is That Sound In The Trees?

Wondering what animal is making that loud screeching in the trees day and night? Its the giant cicada (AKA chicharra or locust)... and they are loud. Their sound is made by special vibrating structures in their abdomen.

Why are they so loud this summer? Who knows! I have no good answer for that. Maybe its the hot summer, maybe its something else. But, every summer I get several calls and questions regarding what that strange noise is. Some people are new to the area, some have been here for decades and never heard the cicada before. These cicadas have been around for more than half a century, so it isn't a new species or occurrence.

When many cicadas start 'talking' it can seem ear piercing. They can be heard from far away distances and you may notice that one clump of trees will starting singing, settle down, and another clump of trees will pick up where the last ones left off.

Giant cicadas are large, usually over 2 inches, and greenish brown in color. You can find their shed exoskeleton stuck to porches, walls, houses, trees, etc. This the last shed skin before they become an adult. They live as immatures in the soil and emerge as adults to sing in your trees.

There is no reason to fear them. They are foliage feeders, but rarely do any damage. They do not sting or bite, but their are large and appear scary.

Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas will be upon us before we know it. so sit back, sip your lemonade and enjoy the sounds of summer while they're here!

To hear the sound these cicadas make, visit the Texas Entomology website at: