21 Jan 2010

Where are all the cicadas?

The song of the cicada is the sound of summer - a high pitched squawking drumming sound that gets into your head and stays there. Sometimes you go outside to their voice and then they all stop, together, and you wonder why. Was it you? Why would they stop this time and not the last time that you opened that same door? It's a mystery. A mystery of Cicadadom.

Remember as kids how exciting it was to find their cast off shell exoskeletons still clinging tenaciously to the tree truck with their sharp little claws and how you would fasten them into your hair or onto the front of your jumper to frighten some kid littler than you? Remember finding one in the process of moulting and trapping it in an icecream container to watch the process to its end, watching the crumpled wings straighten and dry and harden? Remember looking through their gossamer wings? Remember discovering one newly emerged from its hole underground and watching it making the long journey to the heights of a suitable tree where it would hook its strong legs under the bark and stay perched awaiting the splitting of its skin and its final metamorphosis ?

Catching cicadas during summer is practically a right of passage through childhood.

So where are they? As I go outside my door today into the heat of a Melbourne summer I hear...well apart from the traffic...nothing. Later the crickets will sing, but their song is not the same. Not at all.

How can Jemimah go through childhood if she never catches a cicada? It's just not Australian. It's just not on.

I shall need to find one.


What about where you live? If we come and visit you will we hear the cicadas sing? We're free this weekend. Can we borrow one of your icecream containers, or do we need to bring our own?


  1. Jaden has found cicada shells in our backyard but I don't recall actually hearing any cicadas. He found heaps while we were away at Umina in Dec and I did hear them up there. Maybe it's just too noisy to notice in the suburban area where we live.

    By the way you earnt a mention in my last blog post, not sure if you've stopped by recently to have a read :-)

  2. Hi Jeanne,

    There are plenty of cicadas here, or maybe we just have a few but they are very noisy...I'm not sure what trees they are living in but you are welcome to hunt them down :)

    I'm sure Olivia would be a willing helper.

  3. A gazillion circadas going free round here ~ shells if you prefer. They fly into the house at night & drive the cat crazy. He crunches them. If you bring your own icecream container it must contain icecream. We will help you eat it before we hunt circadas.

  4. You can definitely catch some in our neighborhood - several different kinds, in fact. Just make your visit in about six or seven months from now, and my kids will gladly catch cicada with Jemimah!

  5. Hi Jess from Coolabah, aren't you really Jess from Manangatang?

    Nice to see you here. Come and visit again sometime!

  6. You can find some here, and we would LOVE for you to visit! But you would have to wait until it is summer here, lol. Come in July or August, and you can have all you want of them! (Only we call them locusts.)

  7. Oh no, ours are the variety that appear only every seventeen years - so we may have to come to Australia. You can imagine the attention ours get when they finally make their appearance!

    I remember the last time I saw them (my brother would stick them on a fishhook and we would watch the fish jump right out of the water for them) but our boys have not even seen them yet.

    Will you come collect the fireflies with us?

  8. Oh, how 'rotic', Richele. Yes!

    Locusts are yucky things of pestilence. Cicadas are nice albeit noisy little creatures. Not the same at all!

  9. Hey Jeanne...wow, this is a good question! Our area resonates every summer with cicadas too, but I haven't heard them either this year!

    So I wonder where they are!!! xxx

  10. 'Morning Jeanne!
    See now, I read this yesterday and got called away. I come back this morning and voila ~ a string of comments. You are greatly loved!
    Your post reminded me that we were kids in the same era. We too had cicadas. One of my cousins included their shells in some very interesting table centres she made for her wedding with gum nuts and leaves and cicadas all sprayed gold!!! I'm afraid we don't see them in town here. Crickets, yes.
    and yesterday I was thrilled to spy a very fat green frog in a log. It always makes me feel like the environment is healthy to have a few frogs about.
    Have a great day! :-)

  11. Just last week I was outside and noticed hearing cicada's for the first time since we moved here. We live in the middle of suburbia, and so I wonder if that affects the cicada's doings. Although we do find the odd shell every now and then. My youngest daughter is especially found of collecting them - to the point where I am sometimes afraid to tidy up her bedroom drawers....I just never know what I will find!

    Perhpas Jeanne, you may need to go camping.......we always find a wealth of them when we are camping! :)

  12. central queensland where I am has them in abundance, providing the children here with that very same experience. Never read them described quite so friendly as you have done, although they really are part of the Australian childhood experience aren't they!

  13. Hi Amanda Smith in CQ! Where areyou from? do you have a blog? I'm in Rocky.

  14. We have cicadas here, almost louder than next-door's air-con.

    I love them too. We used to collect live ones and keep them in shoe boxes, horrid little brats that we were. We had Green Grocers, Yellow Mondays, Cherrynoses, and Black Princes. I can't remember anymore.

  15. We had our first experience with cicadas when we lived for a time in the midwest of the United States. To my knowledge, we didn't have them where I grew up in the Pacific NW.
    We were intrigued by their noise, by their shells, by the cicada killers we had burrowing in our yard. It was quite the indepth study. Then when we came to the cicada part in Jack's Insects (available at SCM), we really could identify. Maybe it's a slow year there, they take 7 years to develop from what we read...
    We also have them here, but nothing in comparison with the midwest. We just found our first shell about a month ago, it was so different that we hardly recognized it at first glance, but really after careful study there was no denying the similarities.

    Amy in Peru


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