Our trees in La Senda have been ticking madly for about a week.
The noise had been worrying me. Some of our drought-stressed piñons
might not have enough sap to fight off bark beetles (we lost four
trees last year to the beetles). On the other hand, cicadas do make
clicking noises (like an orchestra tuning up, preparing for the symphony).
And the ticking noise came from junipers as much as piñons;
bark beetles are usually species-specific..
But eventually we were able to find a few of the tickers and photograph
them. Definitely cicadas, though they're noticeably smaller than the
big broods of 2014 and 2019, and greener, with bigger eyes
a 2019 cicada for comparison).
It's remarkably hard to locate cicadas to photograph them,
even when you're surrounded by junipers that each have several of them
clicking loudly. Once you see them, you can see the movement as they
make their ticking noises, and as they slowly work their way along a
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[ 20:01 May 25, 2022
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Late last week we started hearing a loud buzz in the evenings.
Cicadas? We'd heard a noise like that last year, when we visited
Prescott during cicada season while house-hunting, but we didn't know
they had them here in New Mexico. The second evening, we saw one in
the gravel off the front walk -- but we were meeting someone to
carpool to a talk, so I didn't have time to race inside and get a camera.
A few days later they started singing both morning and evening.
But yesterday there was an even stranger phenomenon.
"It sounds like Rice Krispies out in the yard. Snap, crackle, pop,"
said Dave. And he was right -- a constant, low-level crackling sound
was coming from just about all the junipers.
Was that cicadas too? It was much quieter than their loud buzzing --
quiet enough to be a bit eerie, really. You had to stop what you were
doing and really listen to notice it.
It was pretty clearly an animal of some kind: when we moved close to a
tree, the crackling (and snapping and popping) coming from that tree
would usually stop. If we moved very quietly, though, we could get
close to a tree without the noise entirely stopping. It didn't do us
much good, though: there was no motion at all that we could see, no
obvious insects or anything else active.
Tonight the crackling was even louder when I went to take the
recycling out. I stopped by a juniper where it was particularly noticeable,
and must have disturbed one, because it buzzed its wings and moved
enough that I actually saw where it was. It was black, maybe an inch
long, with narrow orange stripes. I raced inside for my camera, but
of course the bug was gone by the time I got back out.
So I went hunting. It almost seemed like the crackling was the cicadas
sort of "tuning up", like an orchestra before the performance. They
would snap and crackle and pop for a while, and then one of them would
go snap snap snap-snap-snap-snapsnapsnapsnap and then break into its
loud buzz -- but only for a few seconds, then it would go back to
snapping again. Then another would speed up and break into a buzz for
a bit, and so it went.
One juniper had a particularly active set of crackles and pops coming
from it. I circled it and stared until finally I found the cicadas.
Two of them, apparently mating, and a third about a foot away ...
perhaps the rejected suitor?
Near that particular juniper was a section of ground completely
riddled with holes. I don't remember those holes being there a few
weeks ago. The place where the cicadas emerged?
So our Rice Krispies mystery was solved. And by the way, I don't
recommend googling for combinations like cicada rice krispies ...
unless you want to catch and eat cicadas.
Meanwhile, just a few feet away from the cicada action, a cactus had
sprung into bloom. Here, have a gratuitous pretty flower. It has
nothing whatever to do with cicadas.
Update: in case you're curious, the cactus is apparently called
a Fendler's Hedgehog, Echinocereus fendleri.
[ 21:20 Jun 02, 2014
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