In much of the Northern Hemisphere, nature rests quietly in December. Birds leave or cease singing for the winter, and insects seem to vanish completely.
But in the Land Down Under, the sounds of summer ring out from the treetops.
The Double Drummer is Australia’s largest cicada and the world’s loudest - so loud, in fact, that birds can’t stand to sit in the same tree as a swarm, which can reach levels of 120 decibels!
Male cicadas create sound and attract females with specialized vibrating membranes called tymbals. Double Drummer males have unique sac-like coverings over both tymbals, which amplify their call and give them their name.
After mating, females lay eggs in tree twigs. Once hatched, the tiny nymphs drop to the earth, tunnel down, and feed on tree root sap for 4 to 6 years before emerging from their holes to molt. These freshly molted adults are soft and vulnerable at first, so they continue upwards into the treetops for protection.
A shed exoskeleton is called an exuvia (plural: exuvia or exuviae). These empty shells often cover the bottoms of trees in the summertime.
Emerging all at once helps double drummers find mates and overwhelm predators. The incredible noise from a swarm of these cicadas can actually drive birds out of trees.
This soft enamel pin is originally from our December 2022 Bug Box. Double posted, and comes on a kraft backer card.
Public drop date: January 6, 2023.