We know that bugs can be weird, but if there was one insect that embodied several layers of weirdness all in one bug, it would be, well, the cicada!
Cicadas spend several years underground, asleep, tunneling, feeding, forming colonies, etc. We're talking about a decade, give or take a few years, of life spent in a subterranean domain. Then, all of a sudden, huge swarms of them come erupting from the Earth, singing, mating, crawling on things, flying into car windshields, singing some more, mating some more, and then dying. It's an odd life cycle, and that's just the beginning of the weirdness that embodies these little guys.
We at Anderson Design Group find the cicada somewhat endearing. Their song is pretty, although a little annoying if you have to hear it first thing in the morning!
We also think their lifestyle is kind of funny and cool. We experienced a cicada invasion here in Nashville back in 2011, and we just heard that another series of cicada broods, Brood IX, Brood X, and Brood XIX are coming to Tennessee early! We had been expecting a second-wave cicada invasion in 2021, but it looks like these loud little critters just couldn't wait to invade our state again. (We don't blame them either, Tennessee is a pretty neat place to be!)
And the coming broods aren't just sticking to Tennessee either! According to experts, we're going to see multiple broods emerging from regions all across the Southeast, Northeast, and Midwest! For example, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia will start seeing Brood IX start to emerge as early as this summer!
So if you haven't lived through a cicada invasion yet, strap on your seat belts, top up your windshield washer fluid (you're going to need it), and purchase some earplugs if you're a light sleeper! And last but not least, order some of our custom vintage poster art to celebrate your survival of yet another cicada invasion!!
Nature's Loudest Bug (No Really, it's an Alarm Clock on Wings!)
We're not exaggerating when we say the cicada is the loudest bug in the world. According to studies, the call of the cicada can reach up to 120 decibels at close range! That is LOUD. To put that into perspective, here are some other things that have a loudness of about 120 decibels:
Popping a balloon
22 caliber rifle
Electric drills and saws
Another good way of putting the cicada's call into perspective is this. The cicada can emit a 120 decibel sound, but most MP3 players only go up to 110 decibels, and that's on their loudest setting! If you had a cicada close to your ear and it erupted in song, it probably wouldn't be very pleasant.
Luckily, it's pretty unlikely that you will ever have a cicada so close to your ear that you'll find their song annoying. In fact, most people quite enjoy the music of Nature's loudest insect.
More Fun Facts About Cicadas - Sing, Fly, Mate, Die!
Cicadas are, of course, best known for their song. Most male cicadas erupt in song when they are attempting to attract a mate. There are multiple cicada species, and the males from each species emit a unique song to attract a female from the same species.
Cicadas have a unique life cycle too. Their life begins as a rice-shaped egg, deposited in grooves of trees by adult female cicadas. Once the egg hatches, newborn cicada (which look just like termites) feed on tree fluids.
Once the cicada young are ready, they drop from the tree where they were born and begin to burrow into the ground. Here too, the adolescent cicada searches for roots and other plant life to feed on.
The cicada will spend about 2 to 17 years underground, depending on the species. Most cicadas spend about ten years underground, give or take a few years.
Once it's ready to emerge, the cicada tunnels its way back to the surface, climbs the nearest tree, and begins to shed its exoskeleton. Free of their old skin, the cicada's wings fill with fluid and suddenly give flight to the red-eyed, wild-looking little critter. In just a few weeks, these insects go from subterranean tunnelers to magnificent, colorful creatures of the sky!
The adult cicada has just a few weeks alive under the sun and the sky to sing, fly, mate, and die. And if there was one animal on God's green Earth that goes out with a bang, it's definitely the cicada! That's why a cicada invasion only lasts a few weeks. These wild-eyed crazies come erupting from the ground, fly around a lot for a few weeks, make a lot of noise, mate, lay their eggs, and then perish. What a life cycle!
Anderson Design Group founder Joel Anderson took these photos of cicadas emerging and coming out of their shells one morning back in 2011. The process was quite amazing to witness!
Celebrating the Cicada Invasion with Vintage Poster Art!
Living through a cicada invasion is something to celebrate! That is why we have created a whole collection of cicada poster art. While these funny little weirdos are not harmful in any way, their sudden presence in our neighborhoods, yards, parks, cities, and rural areas is truly something to behold. They sing constantly, especially at high noon. And they look unlike any other type of bug too. If you happen to see one up close, you might think these little guys aren't even from Earth!
To celebrate the 2020 cicada invasion (arriving just as the State of Tennessee begins to reopen from quarantine, coincidentally!), our team at Anderson Design Group hand-rendered several vintage poster art designs. These classic illustrations were inspired by 1950's Hollywood B-movie Sci-Fi Horror Flick art, classic vintage poster art, and 1990s video game art. These crafty posters say it with pride, Tennesseans just survived yet another wild and crazy event!
Every original design from our Cicada Invasion Collection is available as a poster print, canvas banner, premium gallery-wrapped canvas, metal sign, notecard, postcard, or framed postcard. Decorate with pride and let your wall art tell the story of how you survived the "Cicada-clypse!"
In the meantime, I'm heading out to see if I can't train one of them to sing Beatles songs. It should (almost) come naturally, right?
Wish me luck!
Anderson Design Group Writing Staff