19 July 2020
At dusk in July scissor-grinder cicadas (Neotibicen winnemanna) sing from the trees in Pittsburgh. Like birds the male cicadas sing to attract females. Their pulsating drone rises to a crescendo, then drops to a buzz and falls silent. Are they singing in unison? How many are there?
Male scissor-grinders pulse their abdomens as they sing. At close range a single cicada makes a zipper sound. Click here to see another example.
When I’m able to follow the sound I’m often surprised that it’s coming from just one bug who fooled me into thinking a multitude was singing in unison.
Loudness matters. Female scissor-grinder cicadas apparently choose the loudest males.
A single cicada makes a lot of noise.
p.s. Have you heard a different cicada sound in the Pittsburgh area? This article can help you figure out which one: What’s That Sound? Cicadas.
(photo by Kate St. John, embedded videos from YouTube)