Saturday, March 7, 2009

Cicadas in the air

It's a quiet Sunday morning. I'm up on my own, pottering about - read the paper, check the state of our new voice recorder, have a cup of tea, see if there are any emails, have a cup of tea, sterilise some bottles for the latest beer batch, have a cup of tea.

You get the picture.

I open the back door - it is warm, there is a gentle breeze, and the constant noise of cicadas.

That is a sound New Zealanders grow up with in late summer. I can remember walking home down Narbada Crescent in Khandallah past wooden powerpoles with as many as 2 dozen cicadas on each one. And each cicada was making it's repititious, vibrating noise.

I've just had a quick look online, and found which is actually a website hosting company, and nothing to do with cicadas at all but it does have a page of information about the insects!

There are in fact a whole host of websites devoted to cicadas, including what might be considered the 'official' one for New Zealand, at Landcare Research.

But what prompted this was that on Thursday morning I went out onto the deck, and there was a cicada, just sitting minding it's own business, and ignoring me (as far as I could tell!).

And it was silent.

So of course I got my camera, and happily snapped away for a moment or two.

What surprised me was that after all these years of thinking cicadas were brown and black so they are camouflaged for hiding on tree trunks, that in fact they have startling green and yellow and purple, and black and brown. I knew their wings were opaque, but not that you can see right through them.

I agree I've never made a study of cicadas, or any insect for that matter, but it is startling to have ones assumptions undermined so forcefully.

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