Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Cicada heralds the coming of amihan (monsoon)

Dr Abe V Rotor
Annual cicada (Tibicens sp).  Females are
attracted  by the singing of the male (topmost).

It's cicada season, the trees singing in strange shrilling music,
     if you call it music at all;
and you don't know which tree, and what part of it, a melody
    flows, though you know it's male's call.
ventriloquy, it's nature's gift of survival to this noisy creature,
     else traced down while having fun
calling the females mesmerized by the best singer - a Caruso
     among them, to be the lucky one.

once swooned, mating lasts long for there is no other time

    again and life to both is brief; 
the female after laying her eggs in the twigs of trees soon dies,
    while the male loses his gift. 
the twigs fall off to the ground as the eggs hatch into nymphs,
     burrow into the soil their home
for the whole year, emerging in the next spring or monsoon 
     out from their living tomb..   
   
But if in the air a distinct shrill, loud and sonorous, is heard 
    it must be their 17-year kin; 
Born in 1996, they lived incognito in the soil while the world
    moved fast as it had never been;
Or their 15-year cousin, also emerging in the same season,
    unconcerned, unaware  
A life shorter than Rip van Winkle's, blind of the computer age  -
     and would all these cicadas care?


The annual cicada is the most common species (Order Homoptera) in the world emerging in May or June in the tropics.  The 17-year old is among the longest living species of insect, though it spends practically its whole life in the soil as nymph feeding on the roots of plants. There seems to be only one reason why they emerge, live for a few days and die – mating and egg-laying so as to carry on the species. This is also true with the 13- and 15-year old cicada.  It is the annual cicada that is popular in the Philippines.  We have very little study on the other species which are found mainly in the North-Eastern states of the US. This year is swarming time of cicadas in the US, which include the Magicicadas (17- 13- and 15-year olds). Some 30 billion cicada will emerge from the ground.  Imagine the total sound produced by the males which comprise half of the swarm. ~


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