Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Summertime cicadas

At the peak of summer, when there are no interesting birds or hawks to be found, we like to turn our focus to insects. And nothing says Dog Days of Summer than the cacophony of cicadas in the treetops. You can listen to the cicada song and learn everything there is to know about these extraordinary insects at the aptly named website, Cicada Mania.

Last week, we lucked out and found a cicada in full view on the ground. Thanks to information on the Cicada Mania site, we determined this is a female.
She has a beautiful green and black pattern on her head and back.
A few years ago, we came across this cicada in the Orchard Alley Community Garden on E 4th Street. It's a male and he caught our attention when he landed in our hair.
Earlier in the summer, when the cicadas emerged from underground, they left their husks attached to tree trunks. Most of these dried skins either fell off, or were knocked off by squirrels. However, we found one tree covered in sticky sap, which apparently kept the squirrels from climbing the bark. As a result, the cicada husks remained attached to the tree.
Not only were the cicada husks stuck well to the trunk, they were being coated by the dripping sap, transforming them into glistening little figurines.
They almost look like candy...maple-glazed cicada?
Meanwhile, the live cicadas in the tree tops become food for birds such as kestrels. We found this female feasting on the bounty of cicadas in a single tree.
Even this red-tailed hawk fledgling in Tompkins Square Park in 2018 snacked on a cicada it found in the underbrush.
We'll leave you with this fun video from BBC Earth, which shows cicadas emerging from the ground and climbing the trees where they shed their skin. Enjoy the narration by our hero, David Attenborough:

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