Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wee beasties

through the door
Well not so wee actually. It’s been as hot as ever over the last few days and maybe that’s why we have had so many "visitors" and they didn’t fly in by easy jet.
First of John spotted a praying mantis on the gate, you may recall we had one of these in house sometime ago. Fascinating creature that are suppose to visit when the house is in need of tranquillity, that’s sounds about right to me. We then had a couple of very large grasshoppers. Finally Last night we heard a really strange noise on the terrace a sort of rattle, Suzy the cat was giving chase but even she got a little worried and retreated up the stairs. John went out, he's brave, and captured the beast with a glass and card. What we had got was a cicada. We have heard these insects in many countries over a number of years but have never managed to catch sight of one so we were pleased to be able to have a good look at it before it was released. Rather like a giant fly but lovely wings. There are about 2,500 species of cicada around the world.. Thought they do cause damage to some crops they have no sting and do not bite. Cicadas have been (or are still) eaten in Ancient Greece, China, Malaysia, Burma, Latin America, and the Congo. Shells of cicadas are used in the traditional medicines of China. There name is a derivation of the Latin cicada, meaning "buzzer". Male cicadas have loud noisemakers called "timbals" on the sides of the abdominal base. Their "singing" is not the stridulating (where two structures are rubbed against one another) of many other familiar sound-producing insects like crickets: the timbals are regions of the exoskeleton that are modified to form a complex membrane with thin, membranous portions and thickened "ribs". Contracting the internal timbal muscles produces a clicking sound as the timbals buckle inwards. As these muscles relax, the timbals return to their original position producing another click. The interior of the male abdomen is substantially hollow to amplify the resonance of the sound. A cicada rapidly vibrates these membranes, and enlarged chambers derived from the tracheae make its body serve as a resonance chamber, greatly amplifying the sound. They modulate their noise by wiggling their abdomens toward and away from the tree that they are on. Dam clever I say. Additionally, each species has its own distinctive song. The noise of these creatures is synonymous with hot summer weather the hotter it gets the louder the noise they make. Average temperature of the natural habitat for this species is approximately 29°C (84°F). Cicadas like heat and do their most spirited singing during the hotter hours of a summer day.
The noise of a single cicada has been known to keep people awake if it is in the house or on a patio. Hunting the rouge cicada is a game played quite of often on a barmy summer night; it’s just very rare to find the culprit in our experience.
Footnote: To protect our more sensitive Blog followers I have not included a pic of any of our visitors the above Pic is the view from our door.

1 comment:

Jacqui said...

We had one outside our villa last year and it sounded like a pneumatic drill. After about 20 minutes we found it sat on the pillar outside the door. Problem was every time we went outside to look for it - it shut up! Eventually we put it over the back onto the Campo.