Did you notice things have been a little quieter this week? If so, you’re not imagining things. Cicadas tend to tone down their singing when it rains, according to Cincinnati-based entomologist and nationally recognized cicada expert Gene Kritsky.
Cincinnati’s rainy week has enabled Kritsky to take an up-close, in-person look at cicada behavior when inclement weather arrives.
What he found: They hunker down, just as we do, when the first drops begin to fall.
“As it started to sprinkle, they walked to the underside of the leaves, so you had all these leaves that at one time, they were on top of, singing away. They're now underneath them, using them, essentially, as natural umbrellas,” he said of his observations.
Their volume decreases when this happens, he said, because they’re hiding from the rain instead of trying to attract mates — the usual purpose of their buzzing song.
But every break in the buzzing is temporary, Kritsky added.
“Once the sun comes out and it stops raining for a few hours, even today, they'll start singing again and mating will continue,” he said.
That means the rainy start to summer won’t delay their cicada schedule in any way that’s noticeable to humans. Kritsky believes we’re about halfway through this year’s emergence; in another few weeks, this brood will return to the earth until 2038.