Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wildlife on Wednesday ... the Cicada Cacophany.

Oh yeah, you know it's summer here in northern Oz when the deafening drone of the Cicadas begins!  It's been going on for a couple of weeks now and it's already driving me completely barmy!  Take a listen!

First, I'm going to ask you to go to the sidebar and stop the playlist music... and now you can prepare yourself for the noise.


Yes, folks, this goes on ALL day!  The most common Cicada found out in the bushland here is Thopha sesiliba ... or more commonly known as the 'Double Drummer'.  It sure lives up to its reputation!

The males all band together out there in the bush and belt out their song from early morning till evening.  These creatures sing so loudly that they actually drive away many of the birds that usually frequent the hills here.  Did you notice the almost complete absence of bird song?

Apparently the noise of the Double Drummer can be painful to some birds and will interfere with the communication of others.  Of course, this is all just a cunning trick to keep the birds away ... these Cicadas sure know how to keep away predators!!!!  Even the large Kookaburras keep away most of the day.

Right now, if you were to drop by for a visit, this would be a sight that would greet you in every corner of the property as you were leisurely strolling about.  Empty cicada skins can be found everywhere on trees ...

... on the ground ...

and even stuck to the garden bed walls.

These are the outer skins of the nymphs.  They dig themselves from underground, climb up onto a tree and emerge as fully winged adults,  They will then join the droning throng.

There are other types of Cicada that hang around for the show during our summer here.  This is Psaltoda claripennis ... commonly known as the Clanger!  You've just gotta love these names!

The song of the Clanger is a bit more like a very rapid and loud rattling clanging sound!  Music to the ears!

If only all this sound would keep away the snakes.  I spotted this one this afternoon on the kitchen roof gorging on something tasty!  Sorry the photo is a bit fuzzy ... I had no intention of getting any closer!

So ... did you want to come on over for a cuppa? ... while watching slithering snakes dine on small creatures, get bitten by March flies and/or mosquitoes, all the while listening to that cicada din in surround sound?  Hmmm ... no!  Much rather sit and watch the snow fall gently outside?  Yes, well I'm sitting inside too ... I retreat to the air-conditioned office for some peace and quiet at this time of year!


  1. What a racket! I don’t mind the snake ….as long as it stays on the roof.
    I could send some nice pink earplugs!LOl.

  2. They are noisy insects. Ours haven't started in full voice yet. I couldn't get the play list to stop.

  3. Hi Bernie - that's really interesting, we've had *no* cicadas at all this year in Canberra. Having said that, we've also had no dry hot weather yet - the drought has certainly broken for us this year! I don't envy you that noise though .. ;-)

  4. We get the 17 year cicadas, had them a few years ago and it is a nightmare. They come out of the ground by the millions covering everything in sight. Trying to get out of your house is a feat because they dive bomb you and get in your hair.

    If you live in an area with few trees or in the city you will hardly notice, but where I live with lots of old trees they are everywhere!


  5. Just when I thought I couldn't stand the sound of my furnace and hot air blower roaring all day, I listen to that screechy zingy cacophany on your clip... oh my. It's interesting that even the birds flee the sound. I hope this does not go on all summer long.. they do go away, right?

  6. We have Cicadas here too and it is always a relief when cold weather gets here so that we have some quiet, well except for the traffic roaring by out front.

    Enjoy your day in the air conditioning away from the noise and the slithering snakes.


  7. Bernie, I could only chuckle at your witty post, although I feel for you:) The cicadas sure make a din.They seem to have found a non-violent way to keep their enemies at bay! And that snake! It is so huge!The cicadas here make their music(!) during the night, and fortunately, they are found only in the forests of the Western Ghats.

  8. Dear Bernie - do they never stop? Enjoyed the novelty though and the warmth from the other side of the world. Mostly struck with the contradictions of this creature - from paleolithic cast-off casings, a grotesque with fairy wings. Now I understand Eliot's poem:
    "If there were the sound of water only
    Not the cicada
    And dry grass singing
    But sound of water over a rock"


    p.s. would have like a closer shot of that snake ;)

  9. It's such an iconic summer sound.

    The Greengrocers have been going for a while up here. I'm amazed at their 'vocal' coordination --- how they all start and stop at the same time!

  10. I am glad that we don't have those here. Love the snake photo!

  11. I'd drop by for a cuppa just to see what that snake was trying to choke down! ;) You really do have some fabulous wildlife, but all those cicada skins do lend a slightly creepy air to the garden! I hope the deafening din subsides soon so you enjoy being outside again!

  12. Sue ... I rather like the idea of the pink earplugs. I'll send you the snake in return!

    Diane ... oh dear playlist and cicada song together! Aren't you glad you stopped by, lol!

    Karly ... I can't imagine a summer without the cicada song all around us but I wouldn't mind some peace and quiet occasionally!

    Eileen ... I can relate totally to your story. The Cicadas around here must be in the millions too! Luckily for us they stay mostly out in the bush and yard and away from our house.

    Laurrie, the sounds of a furnace and hot air blower would be heaven for me right now. No, they don't stop that noise for a couple of months. It will usually last from December through to early February! Although, if we get the torrential monsoon rains again this year, that will quieten their partying for a while!

  13. Flowerlady ... air-con is on and I'm inside, but that din can still be heard. I'll have to turn the music way up high soon!

    Lotusleaf ... oh if only we had the Cicadas that sang at night! Heaven! Unfortunately we don't get much of a break at night either ... there's always the curlews, and the frogs and toads!

    Laura ... NO they don't stop until around 7.00 pm at night, then start right back up again at around 6.00 am. This will continue for quite a long time yet! I'd trade for the sound of a babbling brook anyday!

    Snail ... yes you would understand just exactly what I mean when I say that the Cicadas are really the background music for our Summertime.

    Carla ... count your lucky stars you don't have this noisy din going on all day! It's only pleasant for an hour or two at any one time.

    Curbstone ... it'll be a while before we can venture outside without the background noise. I can put up with it for a couple of hours, but that's about the extent of my appreciation for this din!

  14. Was that a red bellied black snake? I've heard they can be more yellow than red sometimes.
    We don't have any cicadas singing yet(we never get as many as you do in the North) but the frogs serenade us every night. They love the rain we've been having.

  15. I haven't seen the 'Double Drummer' before. We have the 'Clanger' here, although we know them as the 'Black Prince'. The most common here is the 'Green Grocer' though.
    Sydney - City and Suburbs


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