Sounds in the Nighttime Trees
June 20, 2006 3:40 PM   Subscribe


I was googling "nightmares of the cicada" when I came across this previous post on the blue.

No luck on the nightmares, though. Too many people seem to have nightmares *about* them!
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:44 PM on June 20, 2006

Cicadas are everywhere in northern Nevada this time of year. All that droning is annoying, but not nearly as annoying as their cousins, the Mormon Cricket. That's a damn ugly and annoying bug. Their migrations have been known to close major highways through the state, as the squashed corpses make the road slick and contribute to accidents.
posted by elendil71 at 5:20 PM on June 20, 2006

When living in Texas as a kid, I pulled myself into a tree where the empty shells of a cluster of cicada exoskeletons were still clinging to several branches. I reeled back in terror and fell out of the tree. The thought of coming face to face with another one of these hideous, empty shells horrified me to no end and put me off climbing trees.
posted by eggonstilts at 5:28 PM on June 20, 2006

Low-Fat, High-Protein Cicadas: New Health Snack?

No. Thank you.
posted by cenoxo at 5:42 PM on June 20, 2006

listen to crickets. take the temperature with your ears. (one of the most charming things I learned in a biopsych course)
posted by bleary at 5:43 PM on June 20, 2006

damn cut and paste! that should be Can you tell the temperature by ...
posted by bleary at 5:44 PM on June 20, 2006

Prime number selection of cycles in a predator-prey model
The fact that some species of cicadas appear every 7, 13, or 17 years and that these periods are prime numbers has been regarded as a coincidence. We found a simple evolutionary predator-prey model that yields prime-periodic preys having cycles predominantly around the observed values. An evolutionary game on a spatial array leads to travelling waves reminiscent of those observed in excitable systems. The model marks an encounter of two seemingly unrelated disciplines: biology and number theory. A restriction to the latter, provides an evolutionary generator of arbitrarily large prime numbers. © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
posted by bleary at 5:49 PM on June 20, 2006

Ivers Peterson article about primes and cicadas.

(okay. now I'll shut up)
posted by bleary at 5:55 PM on June 20, 2006

The fact that some species of cicadas appear every 7, 13, or 17 years and that these periods are prime numbers has been regarded as a coincidence.

To you, perhaps. Maybe it's just their way of saying Hello.
posted by cenoxo at 5:57 PM on June 20, 2006

Really, eggonstilts? I love those things. I used to collect them as a wee lad.
posted by brundlefly at 5:57 PM on June 20, 2006

brundlefly - insects in general give me the heebie-jeebies.
posted by eggonstilts at 6:21 PM on June 20, 2006

To get a rough estimate of the temperature in degrees fahrenheit, count the number of chirps in 15 seconds and then add 37.

If we apply an oxyacetylene torch to a common cicada we get a frequency of 23,852 Hz. It's a famous welder's trick to torch a cicada and hear all the dogs start barking.
posted by rolypolyman at 6:40 PM on June 20, 2006

Cicadas push the boundary on the "what is the definition of a species" question.

A common attribute of a "species" is a "reproductively isolated population".

So what happens if you have a bunch of 17 year cicadas, and some subgroup gets off by 1 year (or more)? Check out these 17 year maps by county by emergence years (scroll down to bottom).

In some sense in VA there are at least 17 different species of 17 year cicadas that may have or may not have divirged all that much.

Maybe this sort of temporal isolation explains why there are so many different noted cicada species (and why there may be even more whose minor differences have not been teased apart).
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 6:50 PM on June 20, 2006

I just moved back to TX from NYC...and it was a pleasant shock to hear the rise-and-fall chanting of cicadas outside again. I'm pretty sure I'm hearing the dogday cicadas (such a great name) not the 13-year ones, though. Maybe they're more annoying.

Those little shells are horrifying, though. Ew.

Central Texas is overrun with crickets in springtime--they are suicidally attracted to lights, and die in huge stinking heaps in places like grocery store parking lots.
posted by emjaybee at 9:24 PM on June 20, 2006

In 1983 I lived in Long Beach, Long Island. We had cicadas there, but they buzzed in the daytime. This is not uncommon. In fact, the first haiku I learned was about cicadas, buzzing in the sun.
posted by Goofyy at 11:11 PM on June 20, 2006

I've always loved finding the old exoskeleton shells. At times, before my family moved to England from Virginia, I felt that they were more a nuisance (the sound) than anything else. Then when I spent a summer in England with dead silence at night, I came home to love their sound. To this day, I find quite comfort in that wonderful drone.
posted by Atreides at 4:53 AM on June 21, 2006

I was just thinking about cicadas the other day. I miss hearing their lazy drone in the evenings. I didn't realize how much I'd miss them until I moved somewhere where they aren't.

I miss hearing tree frogs in the spring too.
posted by moonbiter at 6:59 AM on June 21, 2006

The call of the cicadas through the summer heat will always be one of the signature sounds of my youth.

Thanks for the post.
posted by rocketman at 7:05 AM on June 26, 2006

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