Cicadas are insects and large ones at that. Some that are common in Texas will grow to over 1 ½ inches. The wings are translucent and some of them, if held up to the light, are almost iridescent. When folded the wings form tent-like over the back.
Most of a cicadas life is spent underground. Texas cicadas have a 2 to 5-year life cycle. They usually appear in Texas in mid to late summer. Females lay eggs in the branches of trees and the eggs hatch in about six weeks. The nymphs drop to the ground and immediately burrow into the soil where they will spend the next 2 to 5 years.
Unfortunately, the nymphs are considered a pest. They feed on the sap of tree roots with a piercing mouth part. In time, they will mature, emerge from the ground at night and climb onto any nearby object. The adults will then emerge from the nymph stage. You have all seen the empty husks of the nymphs clinging tightly to tree branches. Once they emerge, the adults can live for 5 to 6 weeks.
The Cicada Song
Male cicadas are the ones who “sing.” The songs are produced as a whining sound to attract females. Two vibrating membranes on the sides of the abdomen produce the sounds. Females don’t sing.
Adults feed on tender twigs. They usually do not do long-lasting harm to plants.
The cicadas biggest enemy is the Cicada Killer Wasp. This huge black and yellow wasp feeds only on cicadas and poses no real threat to humans. Leave them alone and they will go merrily on their way hunting cicadas.
Cicadas are, for me, a sure sign that summer is almost ready to wane and that fall is rapidly approaching. They also are a part of a magical time in my life and bring back many pleasant memories. In fact, I think I will go outside on the patio and see if I can hear a cicada song on the evening breeze.
For more information about gardening in West Texas, plants and insects, organic systems and lifestyles, visit our website at https://www.westtexasorganicgardening.com
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