It is always a pleasure to enjoy the beautiful Sigurwana’s Cicada Symphony during the hot summer months at Sigurwana Lodge. It it the one typical african bush sound that everyone must experience whilst on holiday in summer.
The “singing” of male cicadas is not stridulation like some crickets make. Instead male cicadas have a noisemaker called a tymbal. The tymbals are structures of the exoskeleton formed into complex membranes with thin, membranous portions and thickened ribs. Contraction of internal muscles buckles the tymbals inwards, producing a click; on relaxation of the muscles the tymbals return to their original position, producing another click. The male abdomen is largely hollow, and acts as a sound box. By rapidly vibrating these membranes a cicada combines the clicks into apparently continuous notes, and enlarged chambers derived from the tracheae serve as resonance chambers, with which it amplifies the sound. The cicada also modulates the song by positioning its abdomen toward or away from the substrate. Partly by the pattern in which it combines the clicks, each species produces its own distinctive mating songs and acoustic signals, ensuring that the song attracts only appropriate mates.
Cicadas sing most actively in hot weather and do their most spirited singing during the hotter hours of a summer day.
Although only males produce the cicadas’ distinctive sound, both sexes have tympana, membranous structures by which they detect sounds. They are the cicadas’ equivalent of ears. Males disable their own tympana while calling, thereby preventing damage to their hearing. This is necessary partly because some cicadas produce sounds up to 120 dB among the loudest of all insect-produced sounds.The song is loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss in humans should the cicada sing just outside the listener’s ear.
As seen on the photo below, their camouflage is amazing. Whilst walking around Sigurwana it is very hard to find them but definitely not hard to hear them.
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