Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah
image After flying onto the photographer, a beautiful cicada rests on her hand while being photographed. He was later placed on some foliage and left unharmed.

March 10, 2016
Male cicadas desensitize their own hearing

The cicada’s name is derived from the Latin word meaning “tree cricket.” It is most commonly known for its excessively loud song, which is intended for calling mates or confusing predators.

Cicadas, depending on the species, can vary in size from one to two inches in length. They are harmless as they can neither bite nor sting; therefore, they are safe to hold. However, because of the adult’s diet of sap or stem liquids, cicadas have been known to mistake human limbs for tree branches. Doing so, they will sometimes attempt to land on people and inflict them with their proboscis, but will take off once they figure out their mistake.

Depending on the species, most cicadas have short life spans. As adults, they usually live 14 to 40 days, so the cicada’s song is mainly intended for attracting mates. Males being the only ones capable of singing, they will call out to attract a female, but because of the loudness of their own song, they will desensitize their own hearing so they don’t deafen themselves. Although females are incapable of singing, they are still able to produce sound, and do so by flicking their wings and making a clicking-like noise. This is their response to the male of their own species singing. As a matter of fact, a cicada’s song can sometimes be heard up to a mile away. It is also claimed that cicadas are capable of causing human deafness if one were to sing directly outside the ear. For comparison, their song can be as loud as a lawn mower.

Taylor Lindsay is a writer and photographer of wildlife creatures big and small. She can be contacted at

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