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Cicadas are small insects, but they're famous for being one of the loudest animals in the world!


Here's a link to a video of a Cicada making it's loud 'clicks' in action!

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#scishowkids #cicada #scienceforkids #biology #insect #education #learning #elementary
[ INTRO [.

How many different animal sounds can you make? I like to quack like a duck, or moo like a cow.

And Squeaks is really good at … [Squeaks squeaks]. Squeaking like a rat! Lots of animals make noises, and in the summer, I like to listen for one of my favorite animal sounds.

Can you guess what animal it comes from? [Cicada Call ]. This noise does sound loud, so I can see why you would think it comes from a big animal. But this animal tricked you, Squeaks!

The animal that makes this noise is smaller than my hand. It’s a cicada. Cicadas are a type of insect that live all over the world, and they’re famous for the noises they make when it’s hot out.

A lot of people only hear the cicadas, though, and never actually see them. They’re not very big insects, and many cicadas use camouflage to blend in with trees and plants. But you can recognize them by their big eyes and clear wings that lie across their back.

Cicadas may be small compared to humans, or even Squeaks, but they still make some of the loudest animal sounds in the world. [Squeaks is impressed]. And there’s a very good reason why! Those cicadas we see in the trees?

They’re actually pretty old for insects, but they’ve spent almost all of their lives underground. It takes a baby cicada either 13 or 17 years to grow up, and while they’re growing, they stay underground where it’s safe from predators that might want to eat them. Then, when they’re old enough and it gets warm outside, they fiiiinally crawl up out of the ground.

Can you imagine seeing the world for the first time after years underground in the dark? The thing is, once they come up above the ground, cicadas don’t live for very long — usually just a few weeks. They really want to find another cicada to have more cicada babies with, but they have to do it quickly!

So, the male, or boy cicadas make a REALLY loud noise so the female, or girl cicadas will know they’re there. But cicadas make noises a bit differently from how other animals do. For example, if I wanted to make a loud noise, I could use my voice and shout — although.

I won’t, since we only use our inside voices in the Fort. But cicadas can’t make noises with their mouths the way we do. Instead, they use a special body part, called a tymbal, to make their sound.

Cicadas have two tymbals, one on each side of their body. Each tymbal is made of a a very thin material called a membrane. Along the tymbal, there are stripes of thicker membrane, creating what look like ribs down the cicada’s side.

When the cicada wants to make noise, they pull the ribs of their tymbal close together very quickly, creating clicking sounds as each rib hits the one next to it. It’s a lot like how you can make sounds with a bendy straw. When you move the bendy bits together and apart really fast….

It makes a noise. Cicadas can pull apart the ribs on their tymbals and then click them together again so quickly that each clicking sound runs into the next, creating one big, loud sound. Can you hear each click in the cicada song, Squeaks? [Squeaks listens, then shakes his head].

Neither can I! They’re so fast that it becomes almost impossible to tell each click apart. Not to mention almost painfully loud.

Some cicadas can be as loud as a motorcycle engine! One of the loudest cicadas in the world is the Walker’s Cicada, which lives in North. America.

Walker’s cicadas can be as loud as a honking car horn, and the sound can hurt your ears after a while. But if there’s a female cicada around, she’ll definitely hear it! Then she can fly over to find the cicada making that sound.

So if you hear that loud buzzing sound in the trees this summer, now you’ll know where it’s coming from. It means there’s a cicada nearby! [Squeaks squeaks a warning]. You’re going to make a loud sound, too? [Squeaks makes a loud squeak].

That’s one loud squeak! You’d make a pretty good cicada. Have you ever heard any cicadas in your neighborhood?

What’s the loudest sound you’ve ever heard? Let us know by having a grown-up help you to leave a comment below, or send us an email at We’ll see you next time, here at the Fort! [ OUTRO ].