Cicada Song of Summer

“Loneliness is the poverty of self. Solitude is the richness of self.” ~ Mary Sarton

Summer on the Texas Gulf Coast is marked by roadside watermelon and tomato stands, backyard cookouts, and bikini tops and flip-flops as the usual dress. The unscheduled school’s-out days might be of stressful obsession over storms entering The Gulf, or perhaps catching up on your growing reading list is more your style. At the very least, you can expect the electric bill will be doubled until September.

Cicadas are how you know summer is here–here to stay for a hot, muggy short while.

Bur Oak Canopy
Home of the Lyric Cicada

The crepuscular early morning hours is what I look forward to most every day, much like any other season. It’s cooler in the hours before the sun rises, when the sauna feel of high humidity is slightly more bearable. The drone buzz of a Lyric Cicada kicks off the ruckus, returned by another next door; before long, dozens are fighting for the airwaves. After a long winter’s nap, they emerge from the soil at the base of trees, advance through their life cycle with several molts, and finally begin ‘singing,’ looking for a mate. This morning’s white noise is the back drop of bird songs and frog chorus. I prefer it to the sounds outside in the evening (commuter traffic) or afternoon (lawn crews).

The summer cicada song completes my short stretch of necessary solitude every day.

Quiet Morning Reflection

Others rely on these cyclical creatures as well, as food. Mississippi Kites travel all the way from wintering grounds raise their young on a steady diet of cicadas; they return to nest in our trees every year without fail. I’ve watched cicadas meet their demise with hungry grackles, hawks, crows, even ants. The Cicada Killer–a giant wasp, named for its prey–is a specialist seen riding cicadas mid-air, like a cowboy on a bucking bronc. We are alerted by audible objection of the doomed cicada; it is taken back to the underground den of the wasp, paralyzed but alive, and fed to her young.

As long as the cicadas return, so will so many, many others. This has been the way of nature for millions of years, even as we have turned their wild spaces into our domestic ones.

White Ibis

Mobile Cicada Probes
White Ibis Family

Happy Summer, everybody!
Stay cool and relax a bit every day if you can.

13 thoughts on “Cicada Song of Summer

  1. I love this — as much as I love the cicadas and nighthawks. Last year, it took me weeks to finally identify a buzzy thing as a cicada killer wasp. I swear it was only one or two days later it disappeared. But I read about their life cycle, and kept an eye out, and sure enough — they’re back! They’re even in the same spot, and last week I had the great luck to see one carrying a cicada back home. It was only about a five-second viewing, but I knew what I was seeing, so I saw it — if that makes any sense.

    As far as birds go, have you seen the report from TP&W that the flamingo that escaped from a Kansas zoo in 2005 has been spotted again? One of their crews found it down around Lavaca Bay. Keep your eyes open!

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    1. Oh wow. Thanks for the heads-up on the flamingo! Will keep an eye out .. we see spoonbills often, never flamingo.

      On the cicada killer, friends often write me fearfully for a positive ID on this giant flying wasp, scared to let their kids play near it. After all, if a paper wasp can pack a powerful punch, imagine what this monster can do to a kid!! After I tell them to calm down, I urge them to instead respect this amazing creature. And if you happen to find it dragging an insect larger than itself into its den, consider yourself privileged as well. Not every insect will mind us observing right up close and personal as the cicada killer. They don’t ‘want’ to sting us: they save that toxic potion for those who become their food. Smart, I say.

      Glad that you came by to comment, Linda. I’ve missed interacting with the blog world, but am rather enjoying the unpluggedness that’s summer. Cheers!

      PS – camped in the yard last night. That’s how much I love being outdoors.

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  2. I am envious of your daily solitude. I am testing various forms of, “mama needs space” to balance effectiveness and kindness. I am open to new options to test… Signed the slightly insane drowning introvert.

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    1. Don’t worry. They’ll be ignoring you as teens in good time. It’s weird to have to go GET hugs and conversation from my kids now. Savor every moment in time! (Even the boisterous sleep-deprived ones.)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I hope you will manage to stay cool yourself, Shannon. We have some cicadas here in Colorado, but I am sure they are not as lyrical as yours. They likely need more heat and humidity than we are willing to provide!

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