Sunday, July 15, 2012

* Nostalgic Sunday *

It's Time for Another Nostalgic Sunday

Cicadas Vs. Locusts

I discovered a few years ago that the creatures I've known my entire life as locusts, are really cicadas. But since my parents, grandparents, neighbors, and other relatives all called them locusts, and that's all I've ever known, I cannot and will not call them anything different now! 

Right before I wrote this post, I looked online to see if I could find an article concerning other people being confused about this, too. I found the following blog post from Ben's Questions and Answers Blog - July 2005:

~~ Someone asked me what the difference is between a cicada and a locust. Initially I was surprised by the question, as I have always seen them to be two completely different species of insects, however, it seems that many people refer to cicadas as locusts.

Since there is obviously some question about what a locust is let's first settle that. A locust is a type of grasshopper, more specifically, a locust is a short horned grasshopper. A long horned grasshopper is known as a katydid or, more commonly, just a grasshopper.

In parts of Australia, and the USA, cicadas are often known as locusts, however, a cicada is an entirely different type of insect than the locust or the grasshopper. The cicada is related to the aphid and comes in two varieties; the annual and the periodical cicada. The annual cicada has a lifecycle which repeats annually, i.e. they breed and hatch once per year. The periodical cicada may have either a 17 or 13 year lifecycle and spend the time between breeding buried in the ground until billions of individuals hatch in unison. This gives rise to the name thirteen year locust and seventeen year locust. ~~

So, what does this have to do with Nostalgic Sunday? Every year of my life, I've loved the sound the "locusts" make in the summer evenings. It brings back so many wonderful memories. It usually began when it wasn't totally dark yet, but the lightening bugs had appeared. When I was really young, my brother and I, and the neighborhood kids would all run around chasing those lightening bugs, trying to catch one in the cups of our hands. While that was going on, a few locusts would start up their singing-sawing noises and more would join in, until there was a full orchestra of them. Almost as quickly as they started, they would fade away, only to start all over again. 

That usually happened in late summer....August....which meant it was a bittersweet chorus. They were signaling the end of summer, a magical season for so many children, and one of those children was me.  

** July 16 Note: I searched online this morning for a noise clip and found a great one here: 
It says something about a Download, but you don't need to do anything. The sound begins right after you click on the link. Enjoy!! 

P.S. This year's early start to spring and summer, and our ongoing heat wave has totally mixed up those creatures. They started their chanting about a week ago, not even the middle of July yet. 

"Summer will end soon enough, and childhood as well." -- George R.R. Martin


  1. Okay...but isn't a katydid a kind of candy? And maybe some people have another name for that candy, which can lead to more confusion.

    Are the cicadas the ones that leave their hollow shells on tree trunks, so you can pick them off and put them on your shirt like a fancy buggy brooch? Because we call them June Bugs.

    I know the cyclic cicadas burrow into the ground. Maybe it's the yearly ones who leave their shells.

    This may be a never-ending topic!

  2. This hot weather has us two-legged creatures all mixed-up and miserable as well.

  3. I remember the June Bugs that Val mentioned and lightening bugs! Summer has always been my favorite favorite time of the year!

  4. I was in Ohio one year when they had these and they were so loud it hurt my ears. sandie

  5. We had really loud cicadas (which I called locusts) last year. Are you thinking of June bugs that attach themselves to window screens?

    Their noise used to scare me as a kid - no A/C, so I was forced to hear them outside my window, and convinced they were going to go right through the window screen and get me!

  6. Texas sure has these loud critters! I've heard their sound can reach 100 decibels! Ouch. Only males sing as they try to attract a mate! Maybe she is hard of hearing!

  7. Oh.My.Gosh.

    I think we are seriously twins separated at birth. A few days ago my husband and I were swinging on the patio swing, enjoying the summer night. I told him how much I missed the sound of locusts on a summer night. He had never heard them, having grown up in Washington, and I had not heard them for 15 years, ever since I moved to Utah.

    I tried to describe the ramping up of the whine and then the winding down, and he said, 'So it sounds like a siren?' Yeah, maybe. I was so nostalgic for that sound that I came inside and tried to youtube it. Nothing I looked at though quite captured that sound. I miss it so much. And now I come to your blog to see that locusts or cicadas, or whatever the little buggers are,have been on your mind too!

  8. Glad you cleared that up! I never understood the difference! I have heard none yet. Amazing you heard them are right, the calendar is messed up.

    Thanks for your comment on my blog. This writing is a taxing pleasure, isn't it?

  9. The cicadas here in Texas sing loudest during the heat of the day then simmer down to nothing at night.

    I love the music they make!

  10. I'm so glad to know this! I heard my first cicadas a couple of summers ago in Iowa. Being a west-coaster, we don't get either cicadas or lightning bugs. I love the sound, and when we were in Belize this summer, I was delighted to find both cicadas and lightning bugs.

    Our ordinary grasshoppers make their own music, which is the background chorus to my childhood summers, along with the sound of barn swallows.

  11. Hi Val! I'm pretty sure the cicadas are the ones who leave their shell on tree trunks.

    Sioux - Yep...and there doesn't seem to be any cool temps on the way, either.

    Diane! Yes, June Bugs! Ick! I still hate them! But lightening bugs...they're okay!

    Hi Sandie ~ A couple of years ago there WAS a big thing about thousands of was almost too much noise for ME! NO, not really~

    Hey Kim! This is really interesting. It depends on what part of the country we're all from, as to whether we've ever even heard them or not...and what we call them. No, I'm not thinking of those nasty old June Bugs! :)

    Hi Kathi! That's really interesting. Well, you know how males are....always trying to get the attention of females!

    Hey Randi! It never occurred to me that parts of the country may not even have these awesome creatures! They are such a huge part of the soundtrack of my life!! And yes, we were definitely separated at birth!

    Hi Claudia! That is really odd you haven't heard any yet! I just assumed (I know....I should never do that!) since you're in the same state, you'd be hearing them, too.

    Hi Bish! This is so weird! You and I and Randi all have locusts/cicadas on our minds! Hey Everyone! ~~ Check out Bish's blog. She wrote about these guys, too, on her July 2nd post!

    Hi Deb! So great to hear from you! I'm so amazed to hear all these different stories! And yes...Iowa...I spent many summers there as a small girl. They were called locusts there, too! I'm so glad you like their sound!...Now...a barn swallow?? I'm pretty sure I've never heard one of those...I'll go check on Google!

    Speaking of Google: I found a site with an awesome sound of locusts. Go to:

    It says something about Download, but you don't have to do that. The noise starts right after you click on it. Have fun!

  12. I never even knew there was a difference!


  13. I love the sound of the cicadas, too, and that's the name by which I've always known them.

    I'm too Biblical about locusts and only associate them with plagues.

    Critter Alley

  14. Hi Sue and Pat! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!


I'm still getting quite a few spam comments that are Anonymous, so I'm trying "User with Google Accounts." If anyone tries to comment that I know, and it won't let you, send me an email, okay? Thanks so much.