Thursday, April 10, 2008

Video of Cicada Rain at Labrador

Some of you may have read about that cicada rain we experienced this morning on the Manta blog. Been wanting to see this for the longest time! Have seen individual cicada squirting fluids, but this is the first time I'm seeing a whole population together, probably just emerged from their pupa not too long ago!

Have put up a video clip and more pictures here.

Just look at the water spraying about and dripping off the tree. Looks just like it's raining. And that's why it's commonly called cicada rain. Sorry for the video clip going out-of-focus in some shots though. Shooting with 10x zoom, so every little movement caused the shot to go blurry.


Above is a closer look at the cicada. It is said that after mating, the female cicada will cut slits into the bark of a branch and deposits her eggs inside. She can lay several hundred eggs in the various slits. When the eggs hatch, the newborn nymphs drop to the ground and burrow in. Most cicadas go through a life cycle that lasts from 2-5 years, but some species have much longer life cycles up to 17 years.


Here's a wider shot showing more cicadas. There were probably hundreds, if not thousands of them on this tree.

More shots of cicada rain below.

cicada rain

Cicadas have a hollow proboscis beneath their head that they use to pierce the bark of plants in order to suck the sap as food. Much of the liquid part of this fluid is not part of the cicada's dietary requirements and is passed out its rear end in regular squirts.

cicada rain

It was a rather spectacular sight actually, especially when you also get the surround sound effect of the cicada song...


Here's another closer look of the cicadas. Only the males sing, and they may sing for several purposes, and sound differently for each purpose. They may sing to lure females, and this song may change to a 'courtship song' when the female has arrived in the near vicinity, or give 'distress calls' when they are disturbed.

Each cicada species has its own distinctive call so only females of the right species are attracted.


Interesting, the cicada rain attract several butterflies, probably seeking for additional nutrients. Not sure of the species though. Or rather, too tired to check out my butterfly books now :P

Maybe will check it tomorrow.

I must say that I'm really glad we decided to visit Labrador instead of some other shores today though, or else we could have missed this uncommon sight :)


SJ said...

Nice! Maybe I should keep a look out when it rains under the shade of a tree next time. Hahaha...

Unknown said...

wow! amazing..never seen so many of these cicadas before. they always make lots of sounds but cant seem to figure out where they are..

Ron Yeo said...

SJ, u reminded me of the outdoor mahjong enthusiasts in China, where they were playing mahjong under the trees in summer, and then the cicadas started peeing on them. haha

Yup Eunice, it was an amazing sight. First time I see so many of them together...

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for taking me back home to La Canada, CA (even for a moment). We moved to Utah and I've missed that sound ever since.

Ron Yeo said...

Don't mention it, and thanks for visiting my blog :)

Hort Log said...

wow great video....but why do they do that?

Ron Yeo said...

They did it to get rid of the excess water from their bodies after they sucked the sap of the tree.