Ci­cadas all ex­cited to bug Syd­ney

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS -

YOU will need to re­mem­ber the earplugs as well as the sun­block this sum­mer — it’s go­ing to be a bumper year for ci­cadas.

The largest cho­rus of ci­cadas has emerged from un­der­ground since we were blan­keted by a plague in 2013, ac­cord­ing to Syd­ney Univer­sity ve­teri­nary professor David Emery.

The deaf­en­ing din of a sex-charged ci­cada cloud can grow louder than the front row of a rock con­cert and push the pain thresh­old of the hu­man ear.

“They are males singing for a mate, so you would agree this is a very ba­sic need and an ad­mirable pur­suit,” Professor Emery said.

This year’s most pro­lific species, com­monly called the green gro­cer or yel­low Mon­day de­pend­ing on its colour, has sprung up along the Hawkes­bury River and south­west around Cam­den, Cob­bity and Oak­dale.

The green gro­cer pop­u­la­tion isn’t quite a plague yet but more warm weather could bring on plagues of the dou­ble drum­mer, whiskey drinker or black prince species within three weeks.

Mean­while the masked devil, or­ange and black with a black strip be­tween its eyes, can be spot­ted in the South­ern High­lands and Blue Moun­tains.

“This is the big­gest year for ci­cadas in Syd­ney since 2013 and they will hang around un­til Christ­mas un­til most die off,” Professor Emery said.

“Sci­en­tists don’t know what trig­gers them to come out in these mas­sive num­bers — it’s pure spec­u­la­tion — but pos­si­ble fac­tors in­clude tem­per­a­ture, sap flow and rain.”

Ci­cadas are in­creas­ingly rare in the older sub­urbs and city. The old, es­tab­lished trees in the CBD don’t turn on the fe­male ci­cadas be­cause there’s no guar­an­tee they’ll be stand­ing when the next gen­er­a­tion of nymphs hatch, ac­cord­ing to Prof Emery.

“The fe­male picks young trees to lay its eggs be­cause the lar­vae need to spend a few years un­der­ground be­fore they emerge,” he said.

The most deaf­en­ing thrum can be heard in Dou­glas Park, a 20-minute drive south of Camp­bell­town, where Aus­tralia’s largest and loud­est ci­cada, the dou­ble drum­mer, has emerged in great num­bers.

ENTOMOLOGISTS NEED YOU TO TAKE A PIC­TURE OR RECORD THE SOUND OF YOUR LO­CAL CI­CADAS AND POST IT ON AN IN­TER­AC­TIVE MAP. WWW.INATURALIST.ORG/ PROJECTS/ THEGREAT- CI­CADA- BLITZ.

Liam Dale checks out the green gro­cer ci­cadas in Cam­den. Pic­ture: Jeff Dar­manin

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