Monday, July 25, 2016

Jewel # 255 (July 25, 2016)

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“And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord
of hosts, in that day when I
make up MY JEWELS.”
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren

The Noisy Cicada

“God does great things and unsearchable; marvellous things without number.”
(Job 5:9)

The periodical cicadas, also called locusts, have the longest life cycle of all insects and are seen just once every 13 or 17 years, depending on their species.  They appear in late May or early June, mostly in the northeastern United States, but some show up in the Midwest and northern California as well.  The ones appearing this year will have emerged in parts of Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

Most people become aware of them in early summer when they come out of the ground, sometimes millions of them, climbing tree trunks or anything upright and shedding their skins.  In the next few hours, their bodies harden as their large wings unfold, growing stronger and becoming colourful.  They can then fly short distances into trees.

Males make an ear-piercing buzzing song to attract females.  the shrill notes are not made with their mouths but are produced by vibrating drum-like membranes on the undersides of their bodies.  Sometimes males will group together, producing a chorus of song.  At times they will suddenly become totally silent for several seconds—as if by signal—and then all begin their shrill buzzing again.

These one-and-a-half-inch - to two inch-long insects with bulging eyes are harmless to people but do serious damage to tree branches.  The females make deep slits on the undersides of twigs and branches for depositing their eggs.  These twigs are so badly injured by these slits that the tips usually die.  A few weeks after the eggs are laid, the outdoors gradually becomes quiet again as the adult life cycle is over and they begin to die.  Their work of producing a new generation has been completed.

In a few weeks, the eggs hatch and the little nymphs appear and drop to the ground.  They immediately burrow into the soil, not to be seen for another 13 or 17 years, unless someone uncovers a few when digging in the soil.  What do they live on in the soil all those years?  As far a scientists can tell, they feed on tree roots.  This does not seem to hurt the trees.

There are other species of cicadas which have a shorter life span, staying underground for one year and others for two to five years.  These are called dog-day cicadas.  Because different groups develop at different times, some adults appear each year, and their buzzing songs are heard in late July or early August.

The more we discover and investigate the great variety of animals, birds, fish and insects the Creator has placed on the earth, the more we are impressed with His wisdom in not only creating them, but in caring for them as well.  We should say like King David did many years ago - 

I will praise Thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will show forth all Thy marvellous works” 
(Psalm 9:1).

Love you all,
Grandpa  

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