Cicadas belong to the family of Cicadidae and are insects in the order of Hemiptera. The name cicada is derived from two Greek words, kiccos meaning “membrane” and de ado meaning “to sing”. Two common species in southern France are Lyristes Plebejus and Cicada Orni. Under the summer heat, the “song of the cicadas” echoes in Provence, they sing the people to sleep in the afternoon. But their song could be deafening. Cicada is listed in the 2005 Guinness World Records as the loudest insect in the world: they produce more than 106.7 decibels over a distance of 50 cm.
It is the male cicadas that sing when the temperature reaches 25°C or above in order to attract the female cicadas. The sound is produced by a special vocal organ called tymbal in the abdomen and is amplified by the resonance chambers. The singing frequency varies among different species but carries out the same mission: to attract female cicadas that recognise only the sound of its own species. The notes are weak, high-pitched and sometimes hard to notice. The female cicadas do not sing.
Cicadas are timid singers. They stop singing immediately when we approach them but start again once we leave.
Cicadas live underground for about four to six years in their early stage. They spend three or four weeks on the ground before they die. They never live long to see the winter. Whether in the larva or adult stage, cicadas live only on sap and nothing else.
Cicadas have existed on earth since 265 million years ago and come from the region which is now Russia. Compared to the cicadas, humans have a history of only 250,000 years! And we love the cicadas sing, as we love the Provence summer!