When it comes to the fascinating world of insects, few creatures can capture our imagination quite like the cicadas. These enigmatic insects are known for their distinctive buzzing sounds, which fill the air during the warm summer months in Arkansas. But have you ever wondered about the remarkable lifespan of these buzzing insects? Join me on a journey into the world of cicadas as we explore their incredible life cycle right here in Arkansas.
1. The Emergence
Cicadas spend most of their lives underground as nymphs. In Arkansas, depending on the species, these nymphs can remain buried for an astonishing 13 to 17 years! This period of subterranean existence is the longest part of their life cycle, and during this time, they feed on the sap from tree roots.
2. The Ascent
The moment we all anticipate—the cicada’s emergence from the ground. This spectacle typically occurs during the late spring or early summer, when the soil temperature reaches a consistent warmth. Thousands of cicadas emerge simultaneously, making it one of the most remarkable natural phenomena to witness. It’s a testament to nature’s synchrony.
3. The Transformation
Once above ground, the cicada undergoes a rapid transformation. They shed their nymphal exoskeletons, revealing their adult forms with distinctive wings and vibrant colors. These newly emerged cicadas, often referred to as “teneral,” are at their most vulnerable stage as they wait for their exoskeletons to harden.
4. The Song of Summer
Cicadas are best known for their buzzing and clicking songs, which are produced by the males. These sounds serve as a mating call to attract females. The cacophony of cicada choruses can be deafening in the Arkansas summer, and it’s a sign that the next generation is on its way.
5. The Short-lived Adults
Despite their lengthy nymphal stage, cicada adults live for only a few weeks. Their sole purpose as adults is to mate and lay eggs. Once they’ve accomplished this mission, they begin to die off, and their once-ubiquitous songs gradually fade away.
6. The Legacy
Cicadas leave behind a legacy in the form of their eggs. Female cicadas use their specialized ovipositors to lay their eggs in tree branches. When the eggs hatch, the nymphs will drop to the ground, starting the cycle anew. These newly hatched nymphs will then burrow underground, where they will remain for years before emerging as adults.
In conclusion, the life span of cicadas in Arkansas is a testament to the wonders of nature. These insects spend the majority of their lives underground, only to emerge briefly as adults to continue their species. The synchronized emergence of cicadas is a sight to behold and a reminder of the intricate web of life that surrounds us in the Natural State. So, the next time you hear the buzzing of cicadas in Arkansas, take a moment to appreciate the remarkable journey these insects have undertaken, from the depths of the earth to the heights of the treetops.
Steve Creek, Wildlife Photographer
- Date: 8/10/23
- Time: 8:19:35 AM
- Camera: Canon EOS R5
- Lens: Canon RF 100-500 mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM
- ISO: 8000
- Aperture: 8
- Shutter: 1/800
- Exp. Comp.: +0.7
- Program: Manual