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February 28, 1999

Cicada Mail from February 1999

Filed under: Mail, Comments & Social,Periodical — Dan @ 9:04 am


All these letters concerning the hazards of eating periodical cicadas! I’ve eaten them before, sauteed in butter. The best ones are those that have just emerged from their nymphal-skins, and are still white and soft. They have a sweetish, piney flavor and I highly recomend them! I’ve been fascinated with cicadas for years and have a large collection of them, from the US and also from Japan. I have the two types shown on your homepage, plus several other Japanese cicadas, including the massive Kuma-semi (bear-cicada), with it’s 1/2 diameter drums and erie call (sounds like an unearthly male voice saying the word ‘hiss’ over and over again!!). The Kuma- semi is shiny black, covered with fine gold dust, very wide Tibicen-like head, clear wings with large bright yellow-green margins, underside is powdered white and orange with large opercula, also orange with black. This is the largest cicada I’ve seen, considerably larger than any American cicada, some having three-inch long bodies! The Higurashi-semi is one of my favorites, the males have abdomens like paper lanterns, almost transparent and their call is like someone blowing a series of rising short toots on a flute or recorder, which quickly decay in pitch and then stop. They sing early in the morning before sunrise, and in the twilight after sunset, and to hear a chorus of them is one of the most wonderful sounds in nature! As the sun comes up the Higurashi chorus dies out and the daytime cicadas start spooling up, the Abura, Min-min, Ni-ni, Tsukutu-tsukutu-boshi all start calling, and every summer they are all in swarms almost as large as the periodical swarms here. The Kuma-semi was rare in Yokosuka where I lived, and when one started calling amongst the thousands of regulars, its voice stood out big-time, louder, with the distant ‘sss-sss-sss-sss’ getting my attention every time. I traveled to lake Ashi, northeast of Yokosuka and found the Kuma-semi abundant there. At last I got to hear choruses of them and I was big-time impressed! I do miss the cicadas of Japan, alot, and hope to return to record them. Fred [2/8/1999]

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