42. The Cicada

July is the month when most cicadas start up, and it's one of the sounds you instantly associate with high summer heat. The incessant churr of the cicada (Maltese: werzieq ta' bi nhar) is also one of the loudest animal sounds you're likely to hear: with over 100 decibels to their credit, cicadas are undoubtedly the noisiest insects on the planet! But for all its record-holding acoustics it's not always easy to pinpoint the source because cicadas pipe down when you approach. But if you do spot our six-legged percussionist you will behold what looks like an enormous fly with folded, richly-veined transparent wings hunched up against a wall, branch or pole. The cicada is a kind of bug, and it produces its din by blur-speed vibration of part of its abdomen. It's only the males that "sing", which they do to attract females to mate. Cicadas spend most of their lifertime - sometimes several years - underground as larvae, and only a few weeks as flying adults. So we should really forgive them if they celebrate their short above-ground stint so vociferously! By the way, cicadas are harmless.

Copyright to Birdlife Malta.

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