Wednesday, June 26, 2013

no cicadas, no noise

Farm lily in the morning
With the arrival of summer’s heat, I can already see a change in the animals around my cabin. Even animals that are not nocturnal are limiting most of the activity to early morning or late evening. Birds, too, are much less in evidence from late morning until evening. Therefore midday is a quiet time. If I can stand the heat, I find it calming to be outside then.

Insects seem to be the only living things that don’t appear to notice the heat. They still buzz around the cabin, oblivious to the heat. Although much of southern PA is currently dealing with 17-year cicadas, Roundtop is not one of the areas where they are active this year. My county of York is not due to have them reappear here until 2021. Many people call them 17-year locusts, but officially they are the periodic cicada. They appear in either a 13-year or a 17-year cycle, living exclusively underground for all but two weeks of the 17 years. Once out, they shed their skins and become adults. They mate, the females lay eggs and then adults disappear. The eggs hatch before summer is over and then the nymphs disappear into the ground, living on plant roots for the next 17 years. Dog loved to eat them, pulling them off the trunks of small trees and gobbling them down like candy.

In the short time the adults live above ground, the males “sing” loudly. It’s not an unpleasant sound, perhaps somewhat eerie, but during the time they are out, the sound is loud enough to impede conversation in a normal tone, even if a person is standing next to you. It’s a relief when the singing season is over the forest returns to its usual sounds.

But as Roundtop is one of the cicada-free zones this summer, my midday sounds are few and not very loud. A slight breeze through the leaves is the only sound and that is one I never tire of enjoying.

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