the dog days of summer

We’re into what I think of as the dog days of summer. Yesterday the skies were clear and the weather was hot. Today, it’s a little overcast, but supposed to go to 30C (about 86F). We probably won’t have much more of this kind of weather before the arrival of the cooler days of autumn.

This morning, I’ve already heard the first buzz-saw drone of a cicada coming from the garden — in fact, I hear one buzzing as I write these very words. With the end of the hot weather, the season of the cicadas will come to a close, so this may be their last hurrah.

In our region, it’s the Dogday Harvestfly (Tibicen canicularis) cicada that calls from the treetops on hot summer days. Unlike the periodical cicadas that emerge in droves after long periods of absence, the Dogday Harvestfly appears annually.

In their nymph state, cicadas live underground feeding on tree roots. After three years, they climb up a tree and the adult cicada emerges — leaving its rather bizarre-looking exoskeleton behind. I found this one a couple of days ago while walking through the woods here at the farm (click on all images for larger view — and by the way, you might notice another insect on the branch beneath the exuviae — I didn’t see it until I was editing this photo).

Although I regularly find exuviae, I’ve only had a few chances to photograph Dogday Harvestflies. That’s largely because they spend so much time in treetops high above the ground — not a place that I’m willing to go to shoot photos. However, once in awhile, I’ve managed to zero in on the call of a cicada that is near ground level – as in the case of the individual in the top photo and the two below. I found it on an evening primrose in the garden. They’re big insects — probably about 3 inches long if you include the wings. As you can see, they are wonderfully marked with green.

A friend who regularly reads this blog likes it when I post various views of creatures, so I’m including the following side and top views for his and your pleasure. Now, speaking of cicadas, I hear one calling again and must get outdoors to enjoy one of these last warm days of summer.

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6 Responses to “the dog days of summer”

  1. robin andrea Says:

    Wow, Bev! These are fantastic photographs. I’ve been reading lately how the end of summer is heralded by the sound of the cicadas. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard their song. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one. They are amazingly big things, aren’t they?

  2. Dave Says:

    I’m glad for the inclusion of the last photo in particular – that’s a striking insect!

  3. burning silo Says:

    Robin – Thanks! They are quite large for an insect, or at least they seem so if you include the wings. I always think it’s interesting how such small creatures can make such large sounds. The tree frogs in our gardens are much the same. Tiny package with a very big sound!

    Dave – I liked that overhead shot too. It’s also nice to see creatures from different angles. I try to remember to take shots from various viewpoints whenever I have the opportunity.

  4. Ontario Wanderer Says:

    It’s the first photo that I like the best. I saw one at that angle yesterday on my shoulder for about 2 seconds. It landed, I felt it on my shoulder and looked, and it took off again. That short incident is captured in your first photo. Neat!

  5. Wayne Says:

    Very nice photos – your cicadas look quite different from ours. I took a few photos of a newly emerged cicada early last summer, sometime.

    This year I’ve heard none, so I guess we don’t have a brood emerging, nor any of the less-cyclic species.

    We can expect our dog days to continue through the early part of September, but so far they haven’t been bad at all. We’re slightly above the average rainfall for August, and the temps haven’t been much above 90F during the days. Certainly not like June and July!!

  6. burning silo Says:

    OW – They’re pretty kewl looking insects, aren’t they. I especially like their eye arrangement.
    Wayne – Last year, when I was looking around at cicada photos on the net, I found such a variation in appearance between species. Looks like we’ll have at least a few more dog days in August. Sometimes that can stretch into early September, especially in recent years. If I remember correctly, I don’t think we had a hard frost until late October last year – which was quite unusual.