Sounds of Summer

Still stuck in the senses, but isn’t that great! About five weeks ago the first waves of Black Prince cicadas began to emerge from the ground. We saw an occasional one fluttering between the casuarinas, and looked enthusiastically to see if it was really a Black Prince, or perhaps a Green Grocer or Floury Baker instead. At that stage they stay well-hidden from birds who love a tasty cicada meal. Before long we heard their voices pulsating through the forest. They practise beginning all together, rising to a crescendo, then fading to an abrupt halt …. enough to terrify and bamboozle their hunters, as well, of course, to attract their mates!

Black Prince on the Agonis

Black Prince on the Agonis

Apparently the sound is more dangerous to our ears than an industrial jackhammer! Certainly as numbers have swelled there are times on my walk to the beach that have to cover my ears for protection. In the midst of the cacophony I have stopped amongst the tall gums and casuarinas to try to see the cicadas whose song is assaulting me. They remain almost invisible …. but fortunately there is a tree near the house where they congregate en masse. It must have very tasty sap. That is where I photographed these.IMG_0038This morning was cloudy, so we walked to the beach in an unnatural hush. Even the sea was still. But now sunshine has awakened the cicadas who are serenading us with gusto. Apparently the summer of 2013-14 has seen huge ‘outbreaks’ of cicadas along Australia’s east coast. They are larger and louder than any others for at least ten years, described as “pretty spectacular” by Australian Museum entomologist Dr Dave Britton.

Black Prince cicada

Black Prince cicada

What sounds say ‘summer’ to you? Mmm, theses cicadas certainly outdo the frogs at Dadirri!

Here is a great cicada science story for Australians, and the sounds of the black prince …. and Charles has added a useful link in comments to cicadamania where you can find out anything you ever wondered about to do with these noisy summer insects 🙂

35 thoughts on “Sounds of Summer

    • they are much bigger Colline, like a very small bird … and I have put a link to a recording of them singing so if you would like to hear it just pop back over! Here they keep up a constant racket now, like a loud rasping buzz all day when the sun is shining …

    • thanks Charles, excellent site! you reminded me to add a few links … I have been fiddling about trying to come to terms with the new theme … a bit of a challenge, but then we all need that!

  1. I only saw one this past Summer – but it was very memorable, just crawling along a sidewalk. They’re really fascinating, the way they ‘hibernate’ for several years before returning.

    • I guess yours was a bit lost, or old and tired, I have picked them up on the beach and returned them to the bushes 🙂 the scratchy feet are not too comfortable, it is better to have some clothing they can cling to as you carry them!

  2. These photos are stunning, and are beautifully served by the new format.

    Sounds of my summer are the voices of my family members – 13 of them – interweaving as they’re all together for a rare meeting. Sometimes it’s a symphony: sometimes a cacophony.

  3. Love the new look of your blog! The sound recording and the linked article on cicadas were fascinating. I am wondering now if it was a cicada that landed on my daughter the other day (in Cairns) and gave her a fright! Have you tried eating them? I haven’t. This is a report of cicadas in a park not far from me in Christchurch. I can attest to the noise

  4. Great photos, Christine – although I hear them often here in southern Spain, it’s not usual to see them. One was clinging to my washing on the line last summer and gave me quite a fright with it’s noise when it appeared on the bed as I was folding the clothes!

    It’s odd how when they first appear during the summer you seem to hear then all the time, and then after a while they seem to blend into the background as you get used to them.

  5. Here they haven’t started yet! This morning I saw some wings near my front door. Looks as if they might appear soon!.Two summers back we had “millions” of them. They never stopped. Went on straight day and night. I think maybe it must have been the drought

  6. The sound of cicadas is a summer sound for me, too. I don’t think our cicadas are quite so large. There was one summer when the 17-year cycle for the cicadas in our area came around, and the air was filled with them. I would get them caught in my hair whenever I walked our youngest son to the bus stop (he was in kindergarten at the time). And loud? Oh my! Amazing how much noise they can make. The newspaper ran all kinds of articles with recipes and other uses for them. I wasn’t adventurous enough to try eating them.

    Great captures of them. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cicada in so much detail. (I didn’t look too hard at the bugs I pulled out of my hair back in those days. lol!)

  7. Wow! i have never heard anything like that, Christine. I can’t imagine having to actually cover your ears, but I listened to the little clip you included and that is a really powerful sound. I’d be both fascinated and little horrified, I think. LOL! So interesting. I can’t think of anything at all equivalent. I don’t even think we really have a particular sound of summer. Some parts of the U.S. do have very large insects and probably more crickets and cicadas. Our insects aren’t very large, so the sounds are more subtle. But I do love to hear evening crickets, when I can!

  8. Very interesting post Christine. I’d never heard all those different and unusual names. green grocer and floury baker. The ABC article made very interesting reading. Don’t seem to be awake hear yet but up in Malanda they used to arrive in swarms about 6-30 each evening and sing so loud I had to shut windows and turn the TV up. They sang for about 30 minutes then all turned off like a tap and I could open up windows again…

  9. Great shots. We don’t have Cicadas in the UK but we do have Crickets which can make a nice noise when they sing. We never used to get them in London but now I’m finding them in my garden every year so I guess the clean air is finally working after 50 years!

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