Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cicada Season!

In 2 decades of work at the Mirror Lab around the industrial noises of the diamond generator and pneumatic air cart, I've suffered significant hearing loss and tinnitus. The result is that I get to listen to the buzzing of cicadas all the time. But they are louder than normal this time of year when the ones in my head are joined by the real ones in the yard!

They are interesting creatures. The cicadas we've got in Arizona are not the same variety as in the eastern states that live underground as larvae for 13 or 17 years. What I've read is that they only live for a few years underground, feeding on tree roots before emerging. Regular readers may remember the larva I dug up a couple months ago planting a cactus... What fascinates me is that they spend the hottest part of the day out buzzing looking for partners, while the birds that might eat them are inactive. As soon as it cools down about sunset, they are hard to find. While their shed exoskeletons are normally abundant, I've yet to see any this year - it may still be a bit early...

They allowed me to get quite close, and the macro lens picks up a lot of detail. The things I've not noticed before are the 3 little eye spots on top of the head between their 2 big eyes. The closeup shot also shows the lighter white areas are actually the beginnings of a peachfuzz fur. In addition, their proboscis is normally stuck under the bark so they can feed on tree sap, in this case, a carob tree in our back yard. While big, brash and buzzy if they happen to run into you, they are quite harmless, though I read it is quite painful if they mistake your arm for a tree branch and bury their proboscis in your arm!

I've even included a 3-D image of one of them - this is a cross-eyed view, so cross your eyes slightly to see the center image in stereo. I'm still planning on running a 3-D blog, but have been lazy to get it started, though I'm getting a huge backlog of 3-D images!

The other big news here in central Tucson is that we finally got some monsoonal rain! After 78 days since the .02" we got on May 2nd, we got a good soak last night. The weather service says .15", but anyone who spends any time here knows that the summer storms are pretty localized. I'm suspecting we got over a quarter inch the the few minuted it dumped, complete with lightning. It had been so long the cats were pretty spooked with the lights and noise. i say bring it on!

1 comment:

Eric J. Anderson said...

Cool entry...Brendan has been asking me about those buzzing bugs and now I can show him (and tell him what I learned too)!

We measured half an inch in our rain gauge.