All bugs are insects, but not all insects are bugs! Cicadas are true bugs because they belong to the order Hemiptera – only insects in this Order can be called “bugs.”
Step out into your backyard and you may hear a loud clicking or buzzing coming from the trees. What could be making such a load roar? Look up and you will see – it’s a small bug by the name Cicada. Cicada males produce the sound using vibrating membranes on their abdomen called tymbals. While the noises produced all sound the same to humans, to a Cicada each sound has a different meaning. It can be used by a male to attract a mate or as a warning sign to other cicadas that danger is near. The hotter the weather, the louder the “song.”
Cicadas have become a symbol of summertime, due to their active breeding season in the dog days of summer. Because they emerge only in July and August, they have been given the nickname Dog-Day Cicadas.
During the spring, young Cicadas live underground. Once the summer arrives, they will emerge and molt their exoskeletons before searching for a mate. These Cicada molts can be found all over, if you know where to look! Go on a “Molt Mission” right in your backyard. Look among the grass (remember, Cicadas come up from below the dirt) and see if you can find a molt. They will look exactly like an adult cicada, except the molts are hollow. Be careful! They are very fragile and can crumble easily.
Check back next month to see more family activities that will have you exploring the wilderness right outside your window.
- Explore activities that allow you to learn and grow both at home and at the Zoo.