The first study of how African cicadas keep themselves warm enough to sing shows that they depend on muscle power much more than North and South American cicadas do.
When most Western Hemisphere cicadas get chilly, they move to a sunny spot and bask, explains Allen F. Sanborn of Barry University in Miami Shores, Fla. Males, in particular, need to keep warm so they can sing to win mates.
Sanborn and other scientists, however, have found a few cicadas in North and South America with a backup plan. When sunlight is hard to come by, these cicadas warm themselves by clenching their flight muscles.
By measuring the insect's body temperatures under various environmental conditions, Sanborn and his colleagues determined whether a cicada uses these la