We’ve got a new pet. A cicada!
Well, when I say new ‘pet,’ I mean more of a new ‘periodical visitor.’
This Turkish insect, part of the Cicadoidea superfamily of insects in the order Hemiptera (apparently), has been with us for the last few days.
And I’d lay a good bet that he’s with us now, as I write. But, strangely, he’s the first one we’ve heard for a long time.
Isn’t he a little / big beauty, though?
His orange membranous wings and veins are amazing. Their underside have black bodies it seems, but we’ve not had a chance to see that side of him yet.
Granted, a lot of people are going to look at our pet cicada and think he’s a pretty scary looking being.
A couple of years ago, I would have been in that camp too. I’m not brave with wildlife.
But ‘big things’ fly about in Turkey. And I’ve taught myself over time that these things are not out to eat me all up or bite me or sting me.
That’s not what they’re born to do.
They’re just doing what they do (hmm, although that might involve a bite or a sting if I annoy them in some way!).
Of course, Barry has been trying to drum this into my head for years.
But it doesn’t matter how often someone tells you that – creepy crawlies are creepy crawlies.
Anyway, I’ve got brave now. And I actually quite like live, non-human-beings, these days.
I was very brave, I thought, getting so close to our cicada to get a photo.
For two days now, he’s been singing loudly at the top of his voice. And the sound was coming from one of the young trees right in front of the balcony.
For one cicada, the noise is amazingly loud.
We knew which tree trunk it was on. But we couldn’t see him (and actually, why is there just one cicada? Has he got lost?)
Then, this morning, he landed on the side of the tree bark and we could see his profile.
I crept up to get my photo – see above – and then did a quick Wiki research on them. Some have bright red eyes, apparently, but ours doesn’t for some reason.
And, fortunately for me, they don’t bite or sting or whatever.
They’re just big noisy insects. And the noisy ones are the blokes. Hence me calling our cicada a ‘he’.
He is very noisy.
What I didn’t find out on Wiki is why they make the noise they make.
If it’s a mating call, then our pet cicada is being a bit stupid because his nearest potential conquests are in the forests up the road!
Annual cicadas are native to many parts of the world; Turkey and Greece being two areas where they prevail.
If you’re unsure what a cicada is (you very rarely see them, hence my interest today) but you know this area of Turkey, they are the noise coming from the forested areas; an almost screeching sound.
The sound they give off has connotations, for us, of, ‘Wow, it’s hot. Why am I outside in this heat? Get me a drink!’
Wiki backed that up today when I read that winged adult cicadas screech loudly and proudly at temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius and above.
That’ll be why we’ve heard a lot of cicada noise this early summer then!
On our very first holiday to Fethiye in the late summer of 1998, we stayed up the very steep hill, on the Karagözler, at the Pirlanta Hotel.
Our room backed onto the forested hillside and therefore the very loud song of plenty of cicadas.
Nothing even entered our heads about what these things were. We were just loving the ‘sounds of abroad.’
So we had a good chuckle when we heard a fellow guest complaining to reception about the noise from the hills – and whether it would be possible to turn it down!
He said it would be the last time he ever came to Turkey.
I kid you not…
Cicadas – FAQs
Well, we’re not sure exactly if they are eating or drinking to be honest, but cicada adults ‘imbibe’ something called xylem from the tree roots on which they are currently residing.
Apparently, yes you can.
But the idea doesn’t really get our appetites flowing. If you do fancy a nibble on one, then allegedly, female cicadas are a bit more meaty in texture.
Cicadas are a bit fussy about soil temperatures it seems.
Large groups tend to only start coming out of their hidey-holes when the ground temperature stay at around 18 degrees Celsius (64 Fahrenheit) for a few days.
Some websites we’ve seen say that large numbers of cicadas can cause something they call ‘cicada damage’ to mature trees and the small branches of fruit trees.
But it seems that most experts say that even huge numbers of cicadas are usually pretty harmless in your garden.
Adult females lay eggs in the branches of shrubs and small trees but they then live most of their lives in underground burrows.
People (ie. scientists) who know much more about these things than we do tend to group periodical cicadas into ‘broods’ of a certain year.
These experts designate each brood by different Roman numerals so they can be identified and studied to advance our knowledge of these insects.
However, it would seem that ‘periodic’ cicadas are only found in North America, whilst ‘annual’ cicadas are much more widespread.