Nature’s Sunset Song, Cicadas
In the last few months, as we've isolated ourselves and quarantined our routines, the world has quieted, we've slowed down, and the sounds of nature are being heard fully as we are more present. Maybe now more than ever, in the middle of uncertain times, in the middle of a global pandemic, even the clicking noise of cicadas, flexing its ribbed muscle singing to a mate, nature's sunset song, brings comfort with familiarity and we breathe deeper knowing there are still some things that are certain.
Living on a ranch outside of the Victoria County Line, I am accustomed to certain benefits of rural life; the stars shine brighter, the wind blows faster and at dusk, the cicadas sing louder. Ranch life is most beautiful in summer months and cicadas, with their crescendos playing as the sun sets lulls both animal and man into the evening. They truly are a magnificent insect, spending the majority of their lives underground.
According to Texas A&M's Entomology Department, Cicadas have 2-5 year life cycles and appear in Texas in mid to late summer. Females insert egg clusters into branches of trees and after hatching about 6 weeks later, the small nymphs drop to the ground where they burrow into the soil. Some species of cicadas live up to 17 years as nymphs underground. Nymphs feed on sap of tree roots with their piercing-sucking mouthparts. After becoming fully developed, nymphs emerge from the ground at night and climb onto nearby objects such as tree trunk, plants, fences, etc. Adult cicadas emerge from the last nymphal stage leaving behind the exuviae, living only 5 to 6 weeks above ground. It's the male cicadas mating call song you're hearing at dusk as females do not sing.
It's fascinating to learn the evolution of cicadas considering the nuances of varying species, of which there are roughly 3,000, their cycles in prime numbers, and the nymph's emergence from under the soil en masse creating the familiar orchestra we hear in Texas in the evenings. Equally fascinating is learning that cicadas are nutritious and can be eaten after boiling them, although generally, at least in Texas they are most often enjoyed for their familiar song and eaten mainly by moles.
Interestingly enough, cicadas are considered a good omen and are revered in some cultures as symbols of rebirth, renewal, and transformation. All things we can appreciate as we cycle through the remainder of 2020, looking into our future selves knowing we will emerge better for having lived it.
Take a minute, maybe even ten this evening, to just sit and listen and to hear nature's sunset song of the cicadas.
The sunset is scheduled for 8:25 this evening. Enjoy.