Cicadas make their presence known

Remember those innocent days when you’d pack a shoe box full of gum leaves and swap your green grocer (yellow Mondays, masked devils and blue moons) for a prized black prince?

Or, you may have been lucky enough to capture a double drummer.

It’s that time of the year again when the almost constant whirring buzz of the cicada reminds us that summer really has at last arrived.

Tree trunks, and other surfaces are covered in the ghost-like shells of young cicadas that have emerged from the ground to hatch.

According to Australian Geographic, after mating, female cicadas deposit several hundred eggs into slits made in grass stems or in the bark of a tree or shrub.

A few weeks later, flea-like young (nymphs) hatch and drop to the ground, then tunnel into the soil where they live for at least a year.

After hatching, mature nymphs shed their skins, the delicate brown remnants of which can be seen on tree trunks, grass stems and, once collected, kids’ T-shirts.

But a cicada’s time in the sun is fleeting – after a nymph phase – most adults live for only a few weeks.

Cicada facts:

■ Only male cicadas sing

■ They sing to find a mate and repel predators

■ Different species have different songs

■ Adult cicadas live only a few weeks

■ Most of their lives (four to six years) are spent as nymphs underground

■ Cicadas feed only on plant sap using their piercing, sucking mouths

■ Cicadas feed on a huge range of plants, including eucalypts and grasses

■ Birds, bats, spiders, wasps, ants, mantids and tree crickets prey on cicadas.

Source: Australian Museum