More About Cicadas: May 26, 2021

Ghost-like, this freshly molted cicada is already starting to develop the pigment that marks full adulthood.

In this Season of the Cicada, an insect-lover such as me has been having a field day photographing these fascinating creatures. According to Timothy J. Gibb of the Purdue University, Department of Entomology, cicadas are the loudest insect in the world. One cicada can be heard for a couple of miles in all directions. Multiply that by millions and you have the eery, shrill sound that announces their presence. To make their calls, cicadas have membranes on their sides that vibrate. These are called tympanic membranes, just like the membranes inside human ears that vibrate in order that we may hear.

Looking like the aftermath of a machine gun battle, these holes how the cicada tunnels its way from underground.

Cicadas emerge from the ground as wingless nymphs. It is only after molting that they have wings. They do not feed. Their sole purpose is to breed. According to our expert from Purdue, the call of the cicada is to say, “We’re here, ladies! Let’s party!” That’s a direct quote.

This is NOT a political statement!

The sheer number of cicadas is staggering. As there can be up to 1.5 million cicadas per acre. That puts their population into the trillions. As cicadas have absolutely no defense mechanisms (they neither bite nor sting) it is because of their gigantic numbers that they survive. These periodical insects emerge in huge numbers every 17 years like clockwork. Cicadas come out every year, but nothing like the numbers of 13- and 17-year cicadas. (Source:

The last time the 17-year cicadas made their appearance, I was living in California where they don’t exist. Here is a list of the 15 states where they can be found: Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. (Source: Enquirer)

Published by Russell Smith

I was born at the American Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. I find inspiration in the lives of so many people from Joan of Arc to Oscar Wilde. While my primary avocation is photography, I also enjoy philosophy, theology and most of all, history. My beloved wife, Robin Anne Smith, who passed away in 2013 is an inspiration to me. My beloved partner, Dana is also a great support and inspiration to me. I'd be remiss if I did not mention my cats: Maxwell, Nigel, Pirouette and GarGar.

10 thoughts on “More About Cicadas: May 26, 2021

    1. What about the alligators! They are more than a nuisance. They kill. LOL 😺 But every place has its pluses and minuses. Look at California. Lovely weather, but watch out for the earthquakes!

    1. The Arizona cicadas aren’t the periodic cicadas that come out every 17 years. They are related but don’t come out by the trillions. 🙂

      1. Well that makes me happy! And I will say I don’t know that I’ve ever really seen them, I just hear them each summer. No, I would not want trillions! 😱

    2. They make so much noise! They even have different kinds of calls. There is one that sounds a lot like white noise. Then there is one that sounds like rapid clicks. From what I understand, the males at first cooperate with each other, giving a general call that says, “Let’s party!” Then they have one that says, “Come to me! Ignore the others!” Amazing.

  1. The first of the 17 year cicadas were spotted here in PA this week. It made the paper. But, I haven’t seen/heard on yet.

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