Tuesday, December 11, 2007

the green grocers song......

I love showing the kids the fascinating world of bugs, beetles, butterflies and all our backyard critters that sometimes take some effort to find, or require an insect 'adventure hunt' that can take up an afternoon of wandering, pondering, peering into small crevices or under rocks, following a trail of busy ants to their house/castle/mound and watching them busily build their home and carry food ten times the size of them, or, follow the silvery trails of snails left behind from their night wanderings in the garden, inevitably leading to the vege patch or the most lushest of plants.
The cycle of the seasons can sometimes be best expressed by the behaviour of these creatures. The friendliest of bugs that indicates summer has begun in this part of the world is the singing of the - 'green grocer', 'witch doctor', 'black prince' and 'cherry nose' (cicada's). Up close cicadas are fascinating and beautiful little creatures with their delicate leaf like wings that feel like cellophane and huge eyes. After Daniel caught the first green grocer we have seen this season the other night, Myles discovered that, if a cicada sings when you tickle it's underbelly - its a male. Apparently, male cicadas sing "courtship songs" to attract females. Being the bug nerd I am, we also discovered (after consulting the big bug book) that these amazing little creatures survive below the ground by gnawing on plant roots and when the nymph (baby) is fully grown it climbs up the nearest tree trunk and molts - leaving behind a shell of its former self. So now we know what those little empty bodies are on trees that crunch when you squash them.

Daniel and I can remember catching cicadas as kids and doing the tickle test. However, we have also noticed that there aren't as many cicadas anymore, especially the black, brown and red nosed variety. Bugs are a good barometer of whats going on the environment and I sometimes wonder if this decline in cicadas is just that. Summer just wouldn't be summer without the singing of the cicadas.


Poppy & Mei said...

Don't cha just love 'em? We have them over here too & they are deafening! If check out the blog during our summer months you'll see a pic of a Japanese 'semi'.
I'll see if I can russel up the link for you...Xxx

Tracie said...

well, you learn something new everyday.