Why are the trees buzzing? Get the skinny on Southern Utah cicadas

Why are the trees buzzing? Get the skinny on Southern Utah cicadas

A cicada sits on a tree in Parowan. Utah is home to more than a dozen species of cicadas. (Alysha Lundgren, St. George News)

Estimated read time: Less than a minute

ST. GEORGE — The trees are alive with the sound of buzzing. A chorus of unique insects calls out to potential mates and fills the air with noisy whirring.

The cicada’s unique sound is created when males vibrate a noise-making organ on their bodies called tymbals, according to Cicada Mania. Cicadas are capable of making a variety of sounds with these organs, including the characteristic buzzing associated with the insect’s mating calls.

Samual Wells, an assistant biology professor at Southern Utah University, said that while most species of cicada use tymbals to create their song, others also crepitate, which is when the insects use their bodies to produce clicking noises.

According to a Facebook post by Zion National Park, some cicadas, like those in the genus Platypedia, lack tymbals and can only use their wings to produce crackling sounds. Similar to how a metal dog-training clicker works, the insects bend the semirigid surface of their wings to create a snapping sound.

Read the full article at St. George News.

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