Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sounds of Summer

Today is the first full day of summer, astronomically speaking. The official start of summer this year for the northern hemisphere was 6:09 pm CDT. Yes, many of us have felt summer temperatures for a while, have been enjoying the summer break from school, have been swimming and picnicking and experiencing many other things that go hand in hand with summer, but now it is official.

What sounds do you associate with summertime? The one that comes to my mind first is the sound of cicadas. On a hot summer evening you may hear the sound of the male cicada singing. I have not heard one yet this year but I did see evidence that adults must be out and about already in Austin, TX. I was at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center a couple of weeks ago and snapped these shots of discarded exoskeletons from when the cicada nymphs molted a final time and became adults.

After the male cicada attracts a female with his song, the female will lay clusters of eggs in small branches or twigs. When the eggs hatch, the nymphs fall to the ground and borrow into it seeking out the juices of tree roots. They will molt several times before emerging for one final molt as they become adults sometime from April through July depending on the species and location. This life cycle takes between 2 and 17 years and depends on the species of cicada. While the nymphs feed on the sap of tree roots and the adults may suck on the juices in tender twigs, “Texas species are not considered to be plant pests,” according to Texas A&M.

I will be listening for cicadas again this year. I find their singing to be soothing as it brings me back to lazy summer evenings and invites me to slow down and take in the sights and sounds around me. Whether it is this sound, the sound of fireworks, the sound of baseball games or whatever says summer to you, I hope you hear it and enjoy your summer.

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