Love buzz: High highs from Garfield County cicadas signify mating season
Some people might think that the electric hum of cicadas is a nuisance. Others see it as a calming symphony.
What it really is: a love song.
“What you hear are the male cicadas,” said Rifle Colorado State University extension agent Drew Walters. “These are the ones who do this kind of song. And it’s made to attract women.
According to a 2002 publication by the CSU’s Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management, the ancient Chinese worshiped cicadas as symbols of immortality. But, after spending years living underground, cicadas emerge in parts of Garfield County and live the very last weeks of their lives.
Like most insects, a cicada’s life begins in an egg, according to a CSU fact sheet on cicadas. Female cicadas like to lay between 200 and 600 eggs per batch. The lots are divided into “ovipositor”, tubular organs generally used by insects to lay eggs. Each consists of about three to 16 eggs.
The cream-colored eggs, usually cigar-shaped, are initially laid inside places like the cracks in tree branches, plant stems or dead wood, the CSU fact sheet says. The resulting damage to the plant, on the other hand, is minor.
“After mating, adult females lay their eggs…” Walters explained. “They actually lay their eggs in the stems – the plants. Thus, it pierces and injures certain plants. This egg-laying injury that can cause damage and cause twigs to break and die. “
Between 70 and 120 days later, a “pronymphe” hatches and immediately loses its skin and then burrows about 40 centimeters below the surface of the soil.
Then, the “nymph” cicada will spend up to five years feeding on tree sap or various plant roots equipped with needle-shaped rostrums, according to CSU documents.
Despite the abundant feeding of common vegetation in the larval stages, cicadas are not a major pest, Walters said. They grow so slowly that in fact they do not have a major impact on neighboring crops.
Once they’re ready, the nymphs emerge from their long underground existence and enlarge a nearby plant, shed their exoskeleton, and transform into an adult. When they spread their wings, cicadas must repel natural predators such as birds and larger insects.
This is when mating calls become ubiquitous and the shrill shrill emanates from adult male cicadas trying to make adult female cicadas swoon by vigorously flapping their wings.
The CSU cicada fact sheet describes the sound as a “soft, rustling click, similar to that produced by striking two coins.”
“This is the clicking sound you often hear in trees and shrubs from spring to early summer,” says the fact sheet.
The mating season takes place for about the next four to six weeks, and this is when post-coitus leads to death. This duration also depends on weather conditions, says the CSU fact sheet.
“The cicadas that we have in our area have a shorter lifespan than the more popular and, I would say, well-known cicadas – those periodic cicadas that have a lifespan of 17 or 13 years,” Walters said. “These don’t happen in Colorado, but ours typically last about three to five years, and sometimes a little longer.”
So where exactly in Garfield County can a person listen to those questionable euphoric pickup lines?
“These cicadas have (developed a) a founder population in the Grass Valley Reservoir area near Harvey Gap,” Walters said. A founder population is a population that results from using a small subset of a large population to establish a new colony, according to the National Human Genome Research Institute. “It’s a good neighborhood.”
But remember: if you see a cicada, don’t call it a “grasshopper”. According to the CSU fact sheet, this term is correctly used to describe grasshoppers.
Journalist Ray K. Erku can be contacted at 612-423-5273 or [email protected]