Cicadas vs Periodic Cicadas vs Grasshoppers vs Locusts September 19, 2009Posted by TattooedIntellectual in News.
Jeeze, Michael’s been busy today. I’ll just go ahead and push his post down and share some boring nature stuff with you in a vain attempt to educate Rosetta.
Beginning with the cicada.
The cicada is an insect in the Family Cicadidae, typically recognized due to it’s large size and noise-producing abilities. In North America, size ranges from about an inch to approx 2.5 inches, and most species are generally a green/black combo. The noise produced by cicadas is not made by rubbing two structures together, but by timbals located on either side of the male’s abdomen. The timbals function much like a drum head, and the abdomen is mostly hollow to help amplify the sound. The song of each species is different to ensure that the proper mate is attracted, and ranges from audible to inaudible to humans. After the appropriate exercise a female cicada will lay eggs in a twig, when the eggs hatch the nymph falls to the ground and burrows in. Eventually the nymphs emerge, shed their skin, and begin the cycle again. Most cicadas accomplish this cycle every 2 to 5 years, however there are some species, generally referred to as periodic cicadas the have a 17 year life cycle (or 13 years in the southeast). Yep, both of those are prime numbers and the currently accepted theory is that this is an adaptation to avoid predation.
I should note that there are some places where the cicada is colloquially referred to as a locust. Apparently Rosie lives in one of those “places”.
And now the grasshopper or locust.
A locust is a short-horned grasshopper in a clique. The majority of grasshoppers belong to the Family Acrididae and are solitary, grass-species specific-eaters. Something then triggers a change and the grasshopper morphs into the locust which is no longer solitary and stationary, but gregarious and migratory. Current research seems to indicate a tactile-based hormone response. In other words, get too many grasshoppers together, touching each other and they go a little crazy. The locust will swarm and migrate in a semi-coordinated fashion, decimating almost any plant life.