Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Insect Orchestra
In early monsoon our forests are full with insect orchestras. The loudest instrumentalist in the animal world is by the insects. They do not have ears and have some hearing organs, but some species have developed remarkable efficient ways of producing sound as well as receiving it. It is nearly always the male that is equipped with the sound making equipment and thus he must make the first moves in courtship game.
The synchronized screeching of cicadas fills the air and is often painfully clear. The cicada song is so loud that it can sometimes be heard up to one kilometer away. When ready to mate, the male cicada positions himself high up in a tree and begins calling loudly to attract the mate. His song sparks off a chain reaction and suddenly all the males in the area will also burst into song. The sound of so many males seeking her attention quite overwhelms the female who flies right into the middle of this singing orchestra. Of course soon she finds her best male and they start for the new generation.
The cicadas, along with crickets and grasshoppers, are loudest and mist musical in the insect world and have remarkable complex ways of producing their unique sound. The male’s sound production mechanism consists of two hard plates called “tymbals” on either side of its thorax. By rapidly flexing strong muscles, the insect manages to buckle and unbuckle these plates to produce its characteristic ticking sound. What is more, the male cicada has a volume control over his songs – a special covering that acts as a damper when it is lowered. This, combined with a prodigiously fast output of ticks that can reach upto 1000 per second, gives cicada an instrumental voice of some versatility for charming a prospective mate. The sound is differentiating between the species and those cicadas able to produce more clicks per second can vary their songs to make them distinct from other varieties. In addition to this cicadas can, by raising and lowering a cover over the tymbal, make their song louder or quieter.
Yuwaraj Gurjar http://www.yuwarajgurjar.com/

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