Even supposedly mute cicadas have a way to make themselves heard.
Male Karenia cicadas lack the specialized body parts that other cicada species use to make their characteristic buzzing calls, prompting entomologists to declare them mute. But that doesn’t stop the insects from making music, and researchers have finally uncovered their unique set of instruments.
Whereas other cicadas vibrate or scrape their specialized organs to make noise, K. caelatata lays down a percussive beat by banging the front of its wing against a rounded structure called an operculum. These drum solos may be a way for the otherwise silent insects to call to their fellow cicadas, the researchers report February 25 in PLOS ONE.