Meet the Neighbors: Plains Cicada

For the introduction to this series, see here.

If you live in the middle part of the United States, you might hear a loud mechanical-sounding buzz in the trees. I want to introduce you to the culprit, the Plains Cicada. The buzzing noise is produced by the males who vibrate a membrane called a tymbal. The sound is amplified by their mostly hollow abdomens. If you look at the picture, you may notice that the cicada looks like it has been splashed with white paint or whitewash. Interestingly the insect’s scientific Latin name means whitewashed! There are many species of cicada and they make a wide array of noises. If you do not live in the range of the Plains Cicada, there is almost certainly a different species of these noisy insects living near you.

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