Sunday, 12 July 2009

Midsummer song

Along the Sorgue
Far from the hustle and bustle of the festival, the only noise you hear in the provencal countryside during the hot summer months is the hissing/clicking sound that male cicadas make to attract their females. Contrary to a popular belief, cicadas don't stridulate like crickets do (where two structures are rubbed against one another), they timbalise. On the sides of their abdomen they have loud noisemakers called timbals which work like a complex membrane. Contracting the internal timbal muscles produces a clicking sound as the timbals buckle inwards. As these muscles relax, the timbals return to their original position, producing another click. The male cicadas' hollow abdomens amplify the sound. They further modulate the noise by wiggling their abdomens toward and away from the tree that they are on. The distinctive noise they make is sometimes the only way to differentiate two cicada species which otherwise may look exactly the same.
I am usually hopeless at finding cicadas, they are amazingly good at camouflaging on tree bark. But yesterday I had a mentor who caught one for me. After showing it off for a photo, he showed it to his son (who hardly felt comfortable with it) and then released it.

Loin de l'agitation du festival, il est dans la campagne avignonnaise un bruit non moins intense : celui des cigales. Dès que la température atteint 25°C, les mâles commencent à appeler les femelles. Contrairement à ce que l'on croit, leur chant n'est pas une stridulation comme celle des criquets. C'est une cymbalisation : le bruit qu'ils émettent est produit par un organe phonatoire spécialisé, les cymbales, situé dans l'abdomen. La contraction des muscles déforme la membrane qui produit un clic, le relâchement des muscles produit un nouveau clic. Le son produit est amplifié dans une caisse de résonance et s'évacue par des évents. La fréquence et la modulation de la cymbalisation permet de reconnaitre différentes espèces de cigales qui sinon n'ont aucune différence physique entre elles (source : wikipedia).
Moi, je n'arrive jamais à voir les cigales, elles ont un talent incroyable pour se fondre dans la nature. Mais hier j'ai eu la chance d'avoir un mentor qui m'en a attrapé une. Après me l'avoir exhibée pour la photo, il l'a montrée à son fils (guère rassuré) avant de la laisser s'envoler.
Can you see it above ? That was the same cicada before it was caught for inspection.
Vous la voyez ci-dessus ? C'est la même cigale avant que nous ne l'attrapions pour l'examiner.

30 comments:

Meri said...

Wow - I've never seen one close up. They are well designed to blend into their surroundings.

magnoliaamber said...

I don't know that their eyes can bulge so big...nice inspection!

Sandy K. said...

Great shots! What lens/camera did you use? I think it's important to show children as much as possible - great opportunities to explore potential interests and passions. Great post.

Natalie said...

Your countryside must sound very much like my parents' back yard (in central Oklahoma). It is never quiet in the summertime... the cicadas are so loud!

Cushyco said...

Ah, the sound of cicadas. It seems so far away on this wet, cold day is Australia!
A lovely close-up of the cicada in hand and on the tree trunk.

glduro_marieloupe said...

I love the cicadas sound! Its not anoying! Remember us that we are in the Provence!

jali blog said...

blog walking..It is never quiet in the summertime...

Lady P said...

oh, that is amazing! the color of it's eyes, like small bits of light turquoise

Jilly said...

What a beautiful shot of a cicada. Such a good macro. Oh well done Nathalie. The sound of the cicada just says the south of France to me, especially Provence. One time I was near to Arles at a village wedding and the groom put a cicada in my hand. The first time I'd had that privilege. There is something about the sound - indeed I should say noise! - that is so evocative of all I adore about Provence. So love this post.

jeff said...

Et en ce moment, je les trouve bien assourdissantes ces fameuses cigales !... Alors tu dis que ce sont les mâles qui appellent les femelles...!... Ce qui veut dire que les femelles ne chantent pas !?!... Ah bon !...;)

yvelinoise said...

Très bien la photo, les ailes ressortent parfaitement sur le fond blanc.
Les cigales ont une manière de se dissimuler qui tient de la magie, voire de la sorcellerie !
Le meilleur site sur les cigales, où, entre autres, on se souvient du clic-clac de notre enfance :
http://basel.scharyyse.free.fr/cigale/lechant.htm

Abe Lincoln said...

We are now just beginning to hear them. Not many. Just one now and then.

Eamon said...

Great close-up. Love the detail of the wings and eyes. These chicadas - called 'semi' in Japan - used to wake me early on summer mornings in Shizuoka. They can very loud in chorus, when you are living in a rural location!

Abe Lincoln said...

I forgot to say...

54th Wedding Anniversary Today

Avignon said...

Il n'est effectivement pas courant d'en voir de près !
Cela ne m'est arrivé qu'une seule fois à Frigolet : elle était, comme ici, posée sur l'écorce d'un pin à ma hauteur... je n'ai pas osé la toucher !
Celle-ci est petite et semble bien jeune...

fardoise said...

Hier, j'en avais une près de ma fenêtre,sur le mur de l'immeuble, j'habite tout de même au troisième étage. Mais même là elle savait se faire discrète.

AnneduSud said...

Elles faisaient un barouf pas possible cet après midi (oui, je vais réserver le songe d'une nuit d'été!) et là, la dernière vient juste de "s'éteindre".
J'avais eu l'occcasion d'en voir un jour sur une aire d'autoroute vers Montpellier et j'avais été toute surprise par leur capacité à se fondre sur l'arbre.

AnneduSud said...

Elles faisaient un barouf pas possible cet après midi (oui, je vais réserver le songe d'une nuit d'été!) et là, la dernière vient juste de "s'éteindre".
J'avais eu l'occcasion d'en voir un jour sur une aire d'autoroute vers Montpellier et j'avais été toute surprise par leur capacité à se fondre sur l'arbre.

AnneduSud said...

J'avais tout à fait tort, je les entends encore craqueter!

California Girl said...

the wings are so beautiful and the eyes too. I don't know if I've ever seen one before. Do we have them in New England? Did we have them in Va or Ky? I don't remember.

Dina said...

Fascinating facts and face.

Books,Coffee,etc.... said...

Bonjour! Nathalie,
Once again, What very beautiful photographs. Merci! for sharing, all the information about the cicadas.
Oh! the (male and female) cicadas, is/are very interesting indeed!...because I have never seen a cicadas "upclose"
before!...Wow! look at those eyes!...
...they do look like green turquoise stones.
Nathalie said,"I am usually hopeless at finding cicadas, they are amazingly good at camouflaging on tree bark..."
Nathalie, that is amazing!...
...Great shot!

DeeDee ;-D

By the way, I must admit that I posted this comment yesterday, but
I lost it!...Therefore, I decided to try again today...if at first you don't succeed, try, try...and
now I had to cut and paste this comment...because I accidentally, posted this comment under the wrong post!
I'am so sorry!

Du Style et de l Art said...

Magique !!
Je n avais jamais eu l occasion d en voir !

Eddie said...

How interesting... I hadn't realized they were to be found in France of all places as well. I live in central Texas, and they are a sure indicator of the dog days of summer. Personally, I find them revolting, and I'd never hold one like that, but it is still interesting nevertheless to see one close up when you can only ever hear them.

Nothing says summer more than endless days of 100+ temperatures and the sound of cicadas, and the funny thing is, I can hear them outside as I'm reading this. :)

AmyR said...

I like the sound of cicadas. We used to have cicada-invasions every seven years or so where I grew up. We even deep-fried them more than once...

Bergson said...

trop fort le chasseur de cigales j'en avais jamais vu non plus et pourtant c'est pas faute d'avoir essayé

Marie-Noyale said...

Superbe gros plan et camouflage interressant.
Je viens d'entendre la 1ere ce matin!! bientot on ne s'entendra plus..
Mais c'est drole je trouve que les cicadas Americaines ne chantent pas de la meme façon que les cigales Provençales!!!

Nathalie said...

Thanks to all for your comments, much appreciated. I was pretty pleased with this chance to see and show a cicada up close myself. Glad you enjoyed it too!

richard said...

I'd always imagined they were cricket-like - now I know. Takes a light touch to do this I'm sure, and to take the photo

Nikki Beaumont said...

Very neat nature lesson! Love seeing him up so close that I can see the green/black of his eyes.

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