by Cesar Barrio Amorós – Doc Frog Expeditions
~ The Sound of Summer…
We all know the cicadas. But I had never heard such loud concerts as those that occur in certain areas of Costa
Ballena. For example, where I live in San Josecito, the cicada choirs are so deafening that I sometimes cannot even concentrate. Why the cicadas are so loud?
These insects belong to the Hemiptera family, and have a very curious life cycle. They remain underground for years (in Costa Rica about 4 years), feeding on roots and growing slowly, waiting for the right moment to appear by the millions in the early summer. They emerge from the ground as nymphs (pre-adult stage), and climb a tree, where the metamorphosis takes place; the adult insect breaks the protection that it has worn for so long, showing long, membranous wings, which wither during the first night in the open.
The next day, when the sun is getting hot, they fly to a nearby tree and the males begin to sing, to attract females for reproduction. The strangest thing is that the females are deaf, and are not attracted by sound but by vibration emanating from the male. Adult life is hysterical since they only live for about a month. During that time all energy is focused on singing and reproduction. The males die after reproduction. The pregnant females lay their eggs and die.
The next generation will appear in a few years. In Costa Rica, there are dozens of species of cicadas, and each sings at a different time of day or night, so that their sounds are not masked by others more powerful. To me, even though their sound sometimes annoys me, I marvel at the life cycle, somewhat absurd from our human point of view.