Thursday, September 3, 2009
MACRO MONDAY CICADAS AND THEIR ENEMY.
To some they are the stuff of nightmares as they leave their sub-terranian homes and climb silently up tree trunks. Then the skin down their back splits open
and out climbs something not so silent - the cicada!
Much is made of the invasions that take place every seventeen years from the periodical cicadas but the regular appearance of the dog-day cicada, so named because they appear in the dog days of summer goes almost unnoticed until they strike up their strident courtship tune.
Although they are referred to as annual cicadas, most of them have a life cycle that ranges from two to five years, depending on the species. The vast majority of which is spent underground living amongst the roots of the tree on which the female first laid her eggs.
When the final instar of the nymph stage emerges from the ground and molts into the adult form this creature only has another five or six weeks to live. Maybe that explains the volume and urgency of the call!
The cicada has numerous perils to avoid, not least of which is the fearsome Cicada Killer
These wasps have synchronized their life cycle to coincide with the dog-day cicadas. A couple of weeks after the cicada start to emerge, adult cicada killer wasps also emerge from underground. They dig burrows in soft, well drained soil and then go out in search of their prey. When they find a cicada they sting it to paralyze it and then carry it back to the burrow (this gives you some idea of the size of these wasps.) The female lays an egg on the hapless cicada, then puts it into the underground chamber and seals it up. Thus providing her off spring with a ready food source.
Even the macro world can be a savage, scary place! Check out the minutia at Macro Monday, hosted by Ed.
Photo Credits - CJT
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