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July 27, 2005

Do cicadas sing at night?

Filed under: Cicada Anatomy — by @ 10:15 pm

A few people have asked me if cicadas sing at night. The truth is, in most cases they do not. Most of the time when you hear an insect at night it is a cricket or katydid. However, there are a few cases when cicadas will sing at night:

  • In the presence of artificial light sources, like streetlights & flood lights, or a full moon. I turned on a flood light tonight to test this and it worked: a cicada started to sing.
  • When it’s extraordinarily hot.
  • If the cicada is disturbed or attacked.
  • If they’re overcrowded

Thanks to John Cooley for most of this information.

Visit the the Songs of Insects audio page web site for sound clips of katydids and crickets.

8 Comments »

  1. I think the answer may vary by region. Here in East Texas the cicadas chorus at night, and the sound is not likely to be confused with crickets or katydids.

    There’s a little sound clip of cicadas at http://pulseplanet.nationalgeographic.com/ax/archives/01_naturetemplate.cfm?programnumber=2158

    Comment by Thomas Bryner — July 30, 2005 @ 5:58 am

  2. why is the moon artificial?

    Comment by jonathan — January 19, 2010 @ 5:16 pm

  3. I took cicadas that singing in night. it was very interesting to see singing cicada in the night. first i thought these are crickets. i couldn’t recorde calling song of cicada bc cicadas acculamate on a tree. there are more than 30 singing cicadas on a tree. it was out of city in gardens and deserts.

    Comment by maedeh mehdipour — June 28, 2012 @ 6:46 pm

  4. The moon is full and stars light the sky
    and sing their song to the child below.
    High in trees shining eyes see the child below.
    It is late and the wind blows cold and cicadas sleep
    and in their dreams hear night night from the child below.

    My wife told me as a little girl she thought it was the stars singing. Regards DB

    Comment by David — March 23, 2013 @ 7:06 pm

  5. The several trillion cicada’s that unfortunately inhabit the little forest we now live in, in Auckland New Zealand most certainly make the most deafening din every single night.
    They are rattling and buzzing like a huge electrical grid all around us from before I want to wake, to around 9pm. We have about 2 hours respite before the unwanted, deafening, cacophony begins again and continues all night and all day long.

    I thought it might be the moon confusing the buggers, but it can be overcast and they still relentlessly rattle and buzz to several decibels pitch.

    If anyone is interested in deep fried crispy cicadas please come help yourself to the invasive colony we have. The numbers we have would feed a country for years!

    Psychotically yours,
    Angela.

    Comment by Angela — February 22, 2014 @ 2:08 pm

  6. Angela is correct, Auckland has been overrun by the loud continuous sound of cicadas chirruping! both day and night, relentless in 2014. The night time crickets can hardly be discerned above the cacophony of the cicadas. However, in previous years, this has not been the case, They were strictly diurnal insects.. It’s a strange change in habit for them… Interesting to say the least.

    Comment by chris — February 26, 2014 @ 2:39 am

  7. Glad it’s not just me… Yes, I’ve found cicadas outside our place in north Auckland, NZ are deafening this year too. I tend to be a bit of a night owl myself and notice that they do quiet down *slightly* when it gets dark, but they roar up again after midnight and continue right into the new day. It’s literally non-stop – really bizarre, I’ve never noticed it in decades of living in this city.

    Another interesting thing I’ve just noticed is that you can drive down the road with the windows shut and hear the roar of cicadas in little communities as you drive past them , every 50m or so, fairly randomly placed. Here’s hoping that we’ll have 17 years or more until this ever happens again!

    Comment by Paul — February 26, 2014 @ 2:42 pm

  8. Interesting, the exact same thing is happening in Wellington, NZ this year (2014) too. I live by a lot of bush not too far from the city centre and every summer there’s a loud chorus of cicadas during the day. But just recently the noise carries on right through the night. It’s the first time this has happened in the 10 years I’ve lived here. Went to bed around 1am last night and they were still going strong. Not as many as during the day but still a lot! I actually don’t mind the noise so it doesn’t really bother me, but it’s really bizarre hearing them when it’s dark. It’s definitely not katydids. I often hear them around twilight and their sound is very different from nz cicadas.

    Comment by Ryan — March 15, 2014 @ 12:42 pm

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