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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Click on your preferred audio format [Audio File Help]

  • Solo Serenades WMA(429KB) MP3 (1227KB) WAV (4350KB)
  • Nearby Brood Din WMA (444KB) MP3 (1132KB) WAV (4522KB)

Male cicadas call from trees. Each individual male tries to call louder than the next in order to convince females to chose them for mating.

Tymbal Image - Courtesy of Amanda Hevel.
This image shows one of the tymbals just below the pointer. Click here for larger image.

The sound is made with structures known as tymbals which are located on the sides of the first abdominal segment, near the top just behind where the hindwings attach. Large muscles contract, causing the tymbal surface to bend inwards which produces a vibrating click. These vibrating clicking noises are enhanced by a large air chamber that extends well into the abdomen. Repeated contractions by thousands of cicadas can create a spectacular din. Females chose the male that interests them with a flick of their wings which stimulates the male to come closer.

Sounds courtesy of the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology and John Cooley and David Marshall of the University of Connecticut. Cicada mix by the Museum Audiovisual staff. Tymbal photo courtesy of Amanda Hevel.

Audio File

There are 3 audio format options (explained below) with links above, next to both Solo Serenades and Nearby Brood Din. Depending on how your preferred browser is set up, each audio file from which ever chosen format should automatically start from within your configured sound player.

If the audio file does not automatically start, right click on the preferred format to save or download the file to your computer workstation.

WMA - Microsoft, Windows Media Audio files that require the use of the Windows Media Player

MP3 - Is the file extension for MPEG (short for Moving Picture Experts Group), audio layer 3. Layer 3 is one of three coding schemes (layer 1, layer 2 and layer 3) for the compression of audio signals. Layer uses perceptual audio coding and psychoacoustic compression to remove superfluous information

WAV - The format for storing sound in files developed jointly by Microsoft and IBM. Support for WAV files was built into Windows 95 making it the standard for sound on PCs. WAV sound files can be played by nearly all Windows applications that support sound.

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