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Jeff Knight, Nevada State Entomologist

BY MARIE ANDRUSEWICZ -- Oh, Cicadas.  Why do you incessantly buzz, disturbing the daytime slumber of casino workers and the good people who work the night shift at Walmart?

Turns out there’s more than one answer to that question. For starters, male cicadas are making that sound to attract a lady-friend cicada.

“That’s totally for mating,” says Nevada State Entomologist Jeff Knight. “And different cicadas have different sounds. You can tell them apart if you’re good at it.”  Knight says that sound is audible to humans within a hundred feet of the cicada.

OK, fair enough. But why do cicadas need to procreate, i.e. exist?  

“Actually cicadas probably provide a food source for an awful lot of birds and other animals that pick them up,” says Nevada State Entomologist Jeff Knight.

Las Vegas is home to the Apache cicada, which Knight says is about an inch to an inch and a quarter long, has clear wings, and some light cream to green-colored markings once they’ve reached their adult stage.  

But the coolest feature on the cicada, besides the ability to do this, is the tymbal.

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“Tymbals are organs on the abdomen that, when they flex very rapidly, they produce that shrilling sound,” says Knight.

 

Photo: Marketplace.org

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