Cicada song turns up the volume due to hot weather

Cicadas in the south of France are ‘singing’ especially loudly this year due to the high temperatures of the summer, and look set to increase further.

Cicadas - known in French as les cigales - make a distinctive noise that is well known throughout the Mediterranean region, as the male animals look to attract female mates.

Although difficult to estimate exactly, experts say their population is high this year due to the rising temperatures, and the animal’s numbers are expected to increase yet further as the hot weather continues into mid-August.

The insects automatically make their well-known so-called ‘cymbal’ noise whenever the temperature reaches at least 22°, according to Jean Mateo, director of the Vespiland Amateur Association of Insects, speaking to local newspaper Le Var Matin, and it can reach up to 90 decibels (as loud as a lawn mower or even a chainsaw).

“The hotter it gets, the more the season attracts the insects. They then reproduce, and sing even louder,” explains Mateo. “It all depends on the heat.”

Cicadas are not responsive to human attempts to move them on, as they do not respond effectively to outside noises or stimulus, but their noises should stop at about 22h in the evenings, when the temperature of the day goes down.

The animals are similar to crickets and grasshoppers, but they are said to ‘cymbal’ their muscles to make their unmistakable noise, rather than ‘chirrup’ using their back legs as the other animals do.

They also have different markings on their bodies, and cicadas have long wings, while crickets and grasshoppers do not.

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