Tuesday, 3 August 2010

The Cicada Song

It's been really noisy in Seoul for the past couple of months. It all started in June with a few buzzing sounds in the evenings, as the weather started to get warmer. By mid-June, the noise had moved to all parts of the day, ranging from soft hummings to gradual crescendos, ending in an annoying symphony of rhythmic chaos. I remembered these sounds from when I first moved to Korea last august, but until now, I'd completely forgotten about it.

Cicadas have invaded Korea!

For those of you who don't know, cicadas are bugs that come out to play in humid and hot weather. They're known to make a loud, rhythmic noise, and for that, they can be pretty annoying. They're not like aphids or mosquitoes, which fly around and irritate people. These bugs stay high up in the trees, and are only noticed when they sing their songs in solos or choirs. You can almost keep the beat with them, once you've listened for a few seconds.

It's the beginning of August now, and cicadas can be found all over the city -- especially in areas that have a lot of trees. I did some research on these fascinating insects with regards to their presence in Seoul. I couldn't figure out why they'd move to a city as polluted as this one... especially since we have more high-rise buildings than scenic parks and woods.

As it turns out, there has been a large influx of cicadas in Seoul over the past few years, because of changes to the landscape. Architects in Korea are making a greater effort of including trees with large leaves in their designs, and this seems to attract the bugs to the city. However, the cicadas feel inclined to be noisier than usual because of all the other noises that come with the city -- cars, buses, people, etc. Apparently the noise is a mating call sent out by the males. Check out this video to get an idea of what I'm talking about. Mind you, this is merely one cicada. Imagine this sound multiplied by about 20 to 30 (at least) at any given moment.

It's hard to imagine that something so little can make so much noise! What's even more fascinating is the rhythm in which they sing their songs. Mother nature sure is amazing, isn't she?



  1. http://www.buckyhermitkingdom.com/2010/08/summer-noisiest-season.html -- coincidentally, I was already making a video about the same thing. Filmed last weekend in Daejeon.

  2. Simi-
    That picture you took is not a cicada. Cicadas look more like giant flies. (http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&source=imghp&biw=1280&bih=683&q=cicada&gbv=2&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=) Do you guys get cicadas in Canada? We have them in Maryland, but they only come out every 17 years (crazy, I know). When they do come they are EVERYWHERE! Every step you take you crunch on their little exoskeletons. Disturbing at best.

    Even MORE DISTURBING is the creature you DID photograph. That, my friend, is a spricket. Sadly I have plenty of experience with sprickets, however I just saw my first one in Seoul the other day. Let me preface by saying that I am cool with bugs...spiders, etc don't freak me out. Sprickets, however ARE THE DEVIL INCARNATE! For real...they are tiny, jumping, pure evil. Allow me to quote their wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spricket). "Given their limited vision, cave crickets will often jump towards any perceived threat in an attempt to frighten it away. Their large hind legs allow them to jump high and far." THAT'S RIGHT, they jump AT YOU. Terrifying, terrifying devil spawn. I hate them with a burning passion (in case that wasn't clear). Anywho, just thought you should know!


  3. Wow! Good to know! :) Thanks for the info, Meaghan! I appreciate it. Weird how we heard the cicada noise though! I'll make the edits. Thanks! :) Sprickets don't sound too friendly! eeiks!! :(


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