Can You Hear Me Now? The Cicadas Are Calling!
It is that time of year in the Foothills of Northern Colorado when some very interesting creatures take to the airwaves! The sound they make is strangely identical to the 'tic-tic-tic' an electronic igniter makes on gas stoves or propane grills. This guy was in the middle of molting from his nymphal stage. The nymphs spend between 2 and 5 years under ground living (harmlessly) off of tree root sap and shrub roots.
Based on some quick research thanks to the Colorado State University Extension, I think these are the "Putnam's Cicada" or Platypedia Putnami. These guys are distinguished from their "Dog Day" cousins by that distinctive clicking sound I was talking about. The "Dog Day" Cicadas or Tibicen dorsatus, T. dealbatus, are those ginormous bugs (2 inches or more) often mistakenly called locusts that have that grinding, whirring, sawing sound we all hear during the "Dog Days" of midsummer. These are widely scattered across the plains and prefer Cottonwood and Maple trees to do their singing, eating, and mating.
As a fly-fisherman - I've seen the frenzy of hungry trout when cicadas come out in large numbers. With a bug that big, a trout is willing to come out of hiding and leap out of the water to take one of these bugs that misses a branch and lands in the water. Throwing one of those on the line and having a scrappy Rainbow steal line from the reel is well.... friggin' exhilarating!!
Don't worry, the 'singing' only lasts for a couple of weeks as the adults mate and then die shortly after the females lay their eggs. For those of you on the plains - you've got a few more weeks before their bigger cousins come to life!! Ahh, SUMMER is HERE!!
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