Friday, August 31, 2007

life of a cicada

At the beginning of summer, you'll notice all these empty skins called utsusemi left by the semi (cicada). If you ask me, they give me the creeps. But amazingly, they are quite fragile. You can sometimes see them blowing around on the ground.

According to Satoshi, during the summers when he was growing up, they would go around with a net to catch the hatched semi or catch them with their hands (eww!). He said they would look in the trees because that is where the hatched semi fed on the sap of the trees.

Nowadays, you often see children roaming around the neighborhood with these LONG handled nets and a little plastic box--this is where they keep their bounty. (Sometimes you can hear the semi screeching from inside the plastic box--which is actually quite irritating.)

The semi fly around looking for young trees to feed off of and make noises which remind me of those cartoon space ships taking off and/or garden sprinklers.

Apparently, Osaka has a huge population of kumazemi (bear cicada?). This type of semi is supposed to be larger than other semi and they have clear wings. Satoshi says that when he was young, if you were able to catch one of these, "you were the hero" (the kumazemi was a rare species then).

Another type of semi is the aburazemi (oil cicada?), these cicada have darkened wings. Both of these semi have different chirping/screeching sounds, which I can't really describe but when Satoshi describes them for me, it makes me laugh.

The thing I don't like about these semi is that they die anywhere and everywhere. I'm kind of leery of passing under trees because they sometimes just drop dead onto you, or sometimes they fly aimlessly hit you and then die (kamikazes?)....blah. Walking around the neighborhood, it kind of looks like a battlefield of sorts-- bodies of dead semi, wings of semi, road-kill semi--you get the picture. This little guy decided to let out a few screeches before keeling over on my lanai. I'm glad he was kind enough not to die on my lanai slippers (believe me, I've found them there too!)

Towards the end of September, when the weather starts to cool, the suzumushi(bell-ring crickets) and koorogi(cricket) start to come out in the evenings and chirp their chirp. That's when you know you've survived the heat and humidity of another Japan summer.

We still have a ways to go until the weather starts to cool, but it is the end of August and technically summer is over. What a hot and humid one it was...whew!


Jann said...

I love hearing the churp-churp of these little critters in the summer on a hot eve.............hey, when I was at the wholesale organic medicine market in Xi'An, there were buckets of these things for sale.They must be tasty, too! YUCK!

K and S said...

ewww, Jann, you mean they eat them there?? blah!

thanks for stopping by, take care.

Anonymous said...

I am fascinated to learn about all this. From country to country, so many things that make a place unique.

K and S said...

Thanks Bea! That is what I love about blogging everyone sharing their cultures and experiences.

Thanks for stopping by, take care.

Unknown said...

Greetings, my first visit to your blog, nice pictures and posts! I lived in Japan as an exchange student a long time ago and while I remember the droning sound of the cicada, I never knew what they looked like. The picture of the husk is definitely creepy!

K and S said...

Hi Foodhoe,
Thanks for stopping by, I was an exchange student in Japan many moons ago too! The husk is definitely creepy.

Take care.