From ERIC SHACKLE, in Sydney, Australia.<ericshackle*bigpond.com>
Shock, horror ... and sadness too. Aussie kids don't collect cicadas!
"Is that a Floury Baker or a Greengrocer?" I asked my great-grandson the other day.
He had no idea what I was talking about. Nor had his dad. So it seems that Aussie kids (well, some of them) no longer enjoy climbing gumtrees in search of these noisy insects.
When I went to school ages ago, me and me mates had a bonzer time climbing gumtrees and collecting cicadas with wonderful names: the fore-mentioned Floury Bakers and Greengrocers, Union Jacks, Black Princes. Cherry Noses, Double Drummers and Yellow Mondays.
"The drone of cicadas is one of Sydney's most recognisable sounds of summer," says Dr. Max Moulds from The Australian Museum.
"It is thought that the sound produced by some communal species can act as a defence against predatory birds and some are even loud enough (120 decibels) to be painful to the human ear. Cicadas also often sing in chorus, which makes it more difficult for a predator to locate an individual.
"Only male cicadas sing. They do this in an attempt to find a mate. Different species have different songs to attract only their own kind.
"Adult cicadas have short lives, usually only a few weeks.Most of their lives are spent as nymphs underground. For some species this can be up to several years.
"Cicadas feed only on plant sap using their piercing, sucking mouthparts. [They] feed on a huge range of plants, including eucalypts and grasses. Birds, bats, spiders, wasps, ants, mantids and tree crickets all prey on cicadas."
Many people around the world enjoy the taste of cicadas. They've been eaten in Ancient Greece, China, Malaysia, Burma and Latin America.
Sydneysiders have differring views of cicadas. Keira (aged six) wrote on a forum page: "I have six pet cicadas. One of them is called Georgina. My other one is called George. One day a cicada flew on to my hand and on Sunday the 11th I found a cicada on the wooden chair."
But Susan whinged, "Is there any way to STOP the cicarda noise. Perhaps an ultrasonic noise or anything you could think of."
Why Don't We Eat More Insects:
Much more about cicadas:
Sir David Attenborough video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjLiWy2nT7U