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The singing trees of Tallarook

December 6, 2013

Redeyes 'sucking it up'.

Redeyes ‘sucking it up’.

The first day of summer, being hot and sunny, deserved something special – a bushwalk in the Tallarook Range, a granite intrusion looming over the King Parrot Creek valley. The familiar summer sound of cicadas got louder as we walked deeper into the forest until it became almost deafening. Young smooth-barked eucalypts and acacias were festooned with thousands if not tens of thousands of cicadas known as Redeyes (Psaltoda moerens), so called for obvious reasons (see picture left).

Redeyes, common to south-eastern Australia, appear between November and February. They spend most of their lives feeding on the sap of young eucalypts and angophoras, which they do by puncturing the bark. After mating, they lay eggs in dead plant tissue. Unlike the previously featured Greengrocer cicada, which makes its sound by rubbing the top of its wing against its thorax (click HERE to view post), the Redeye does so by flexing its abdomen upwards. Click the video below to see the sound action.

My summer PPE (personal protective equipment) kit is quickly taking shape. As discussed in previous posts it now consists of a helmet (protection from dive-bombing magpies and falling pine cones released by black cockatoos), gaiters (for keeping snakes and grass seeds at bay) and now industrial earmuffs for protection against cicadas. And I wonder why people run the other way when they see me bushwalking.

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