Pioneer Museum

Esperanza’s World – Cicada Center – How Cicadas Sing

Esperanza’s World – Cicada Center – How Cicadas Sing




Activities / Teacher Resources

How Cicadas Sing

by Stephanie Bailey – 
Entomology Extension Specialist Only male cicadas sing. Their songs are produced by two drum-like organs called tymbals, which are attached to powerful muscles on the underside of the abdomen, next to the thorax. The “eardrums” or tympana lie behind the tymbals. When the muscles attached to the tymbals are tensed and then released, the tymbals vibrate, producing the characteristic song. The mechanism is similar to tapping a metal lid many times in succession. Different species of cicadas produce slightly different songs. By “singing,” the cicadas are able to gather nearby populations of males and females of the same species together.