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Why Do Cicadas Make Noise at Night?

800px-Tibicen_linneiIf you're used to hearing cicadas sing at night, you may be interested to know that these creatures actually qualify as one of the loudest insects to be found anywhere in the world. The sounds that they make are far from random, though. Cicadas make their clicking and chirping noises quite intentionally, and they serve a very specific purpose. The songs are a mating call.

An Incredible Range and Population Density

Males make these calls in order to draw females toward them when they need to mate. Due to their high volume, the females can actually hear the sound at an astounding distance of roughly a mile from the male. The distance is for a single cicada, but as those living in North Carolina and along the east coast know, it is very rare to hear just one of these insects at a time. They are usually packed into dense groups, with all of the males competing with each other as they call for the females. In fact, estimates have shown that a single square mile can often hold up to one billion of these insects. Yes, you read that correctly . . . one billion.

How Do They Make These Sounds?

For those interested in the anatomy of cicadas, the insects have what is known as a tymbal. This is a device that can be compared to a drum or a plate, and is white in color. To make the sound, the cicadas cause this device, which is located near their abdomens, to vibrate.

The Cumulative Volume

The reason many people consider these insects to be pests when they rise up in a chorus, all trying to find a mate, is that the cumulative volume of the whole group of cicadas can be as loud as a lawnmower engine with the throttle pushed all the way down - or louder. Some studies have shown that they can reach an overall volume of 100 decibels. Though the mating period for cicadas is only a couple of weeks, the sound can keep people awake until sunrise, and quickly grow overwhelming.

Contact a Professional

If you would like to learn more about cicadas, pest control methods, or anything else about these common North Carolina insects, contact Clegg’s online or phone at 888-672-5344.

 

Image via: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cicada

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