These days there is a strange sound in the air. It’s not the power lines, nor is it crickets. It is a long, buzzing, high-pitch drone that we hear in Ontario in mid-to-late summer and it is the sound of very fascinating insects – the cicadas.
Cicadas such as our local dog-day cicada (Tibicen canicularis) make the loudest sound of all insects. They are also quite large, with about 4 cm in length.
Each cicada species has a characteristic “song” and it is only the male insects that sing. Just like many birds they sing to attract females.
Young cicada larvae live underground for several years, using their piercing mouthparts to drink root juices of oak, willow, ash, and maple trees, among others. Once it is time for them to come to the surface, they find a nearby plant on which they shed their skins and emerge as fully formed adults. If you are lucky enough you might find one of their exoskeletons still attached to a tree or laying on the ground.