"Cicadian" Rhythms in Lago di Garda

Hi, everyone! My parents came to visit us for a few weeks and they brought the hot temperatures of the South with them.  Whoot! In the last few weeks, Europe experienced record temperatures during my parents' visit.  We couldn't really escape the heat in Austria... so, we decided to change the location and high-tailed it to Lago di Garda for some lakeside fun and sight-seeing.

Lago di Garda was beautiful as usual.  Tempertures hovered around 95 degrees Fahrenheit.  It was hot... but, it was Italy... and, it was all about soaking in the sun and eating great food.

Lake Pebbles / Fresh Lake Perch / Plums / Hammock Fun / Makeshift House

We also had quite a few visitors at our house in Gargnano - the cicadas!  They are a strong link to my childhood memories of summertime and being back home in Georgia.  Their sound, their quirky nature, their little exoskeletons left behind as a little reminder that they were once here... if only for a brief moment.

They are funny little creatures, these cicadas.  Unfortunately, they are called 'idiot bugs' because they can't fly far, can't see well, don't bite, aren't a predator to any other creature (and therefore, are gobbled up in great number by every other creature around)... but, I find them quite cute and I am happy to see them when they come to visit.

They are masters at camoflage, don't you think?

The cicada's name mean's 'tree cricket' in Latin.  There are more than 2,500 species identified... and many more remain unidentified.  Unlike the cricket who uses stridulation (rubbing their legs together) to make their distinctive chirp, the male cicada has a noise maker, called a tymbal, beneath both sides of its anterior abdomen. Contraction of the internal muscles produces a click sound and relaxation of the muscle returns it to the original position and makes another click sound.  The abdomen is hollow and acts as a 'sound box'.

Wow, according to Wiki, sometimes the cicadas sing so loudly (over 120 decibels) and can cause permanent hearing loss if sung directly into a person's ear.  Some sing at such a high pitch that we can't even hear the sound!

When I approached one on a tree, a cicada immediately stopped its singing...  In hopes that I would then focus on the other cicadas singing nearby and lose sight of the original cicada... This is a trick used by the cicadas called the "ventriloqual effect".

Many cicadas have a 2-5 year life cycle.  The North American Magicicada has a whopping 13- and 17-year life cycle.  Whoa.  They live their lives mostly in the nymph stage... feasting underground on the sap in the roots of trees... until their strong front legs help them dig to the surface and finish the nymph stage by moulting, or shedding their skin, and emerge as adults.

We found tons of these exoskeletons around the yard.  These little skeletons later return back to the soil as little nitrogen treats for the plants and trees. 

An All Star Guy!

A Quirky Bouquet

So, at this point, the adults have wandered off into the trees and are singing their hearts out
to find a mate.  Once ready, a female cicada digs into the tree bark and lays hundreds of eggs... and the cycle starts all over again!  Funny little creatures!

Phew! A break for now... stay tuned as we hit Verona and Ruhpolding in the Bavarian Alps!


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