Cicada beats

A fellow blogger at Ruth’s reflections was wondering what triggers the sudden appearance of our noisy, New Zealand summer companions, the cicada. It seems that the cicadas in Christchurch had come out en masse about the same time I noticed an upsurge in numbers here in Porirua. They are late this year but in the past two or three weeks the air has been crackling with the songs of the males.

I did a little investigating and found that soil temperatures around 22C certainly spur on their growth but the interesting information that captured my imagination was this piece:

“Maori and native Americans share an interesting link with cicadas.
Both identify the insects with the Dog Star, Sirius, which is at meridian in the summer sky when the nymphs emerge.
While many people do not realise that New Zealand has more than one type of cicada, Maori recognised 12 types based on their song and identified their arrival with the Dog Star, named Rehua after a forest deity. Cicadas are considered to be his protégés.
Various native American tribes have names for the insects that can be translated as Dog Star cicadas.”

Is there a star gazer out there who can tell me when Sirius appeared in the sky above New Zealand this year….perhaps the powerful light of a star is the tipping point for masses of cicadas to emerge from the ground and begin their short but noisy lives?


10 thoughts on “Cicada beats

  1. indiginz

    Great article. I know Sirius as Takurua so had to look it up and found this in the dictionary.
    1. (personal noun) Antares – the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius and the one associated with summer. Rehua is also an important male atua associated with kindness, enjoyment and entertainment. E kī ana te kōrero, ‘Te tātarakihi, te pihareinga; ko ngā manu ēnā o Rehua.’ Ka tangi ana ēnei ngāngara kua tīmata te raumati (Te Ara 2011).The saying says, ‘The cicada and the cricket are the flying creatures of Rehua.’ These creatures sing when summer has begun. See also Pūtahi-nui-o-Rehua.
    2. (personal noun) eighth month of the Māori lunar calendar, approximately equivalent to January. Ko te putanga mai o Matariki te tohu mō te marama tuatahi, ko ngā ingoa hoki ēnei o ngā marama katoa: Te Tahi o Pipiri, Te Rua o Takurua,Te Toru Here o Pipiri, Te Whā o Mahuru, Te Rima o Kōpū, Te Ono o Whitiānaunau, Te Whitu o Hakihea, Te Waru o Rehua, Te Iwa o Rūhi-te-rangi, Te Ngahuru o Poutū-te-rangi, Te Ngahuru mā tahi, Te Ngahuru mā rua (TP 1/3/1901:6).The appearance of Pleiades is the sign for the first month and these are the names of all the months: The first is Pipiri, the second is Takurua, the third is Here o Pipiri, the fourth is Mahuru, the fifth is Kōpū, the sixth is Whiti-ānaunau, the seventh is Hakihea, the eighth is Rehua, the ninth is Rūhi-te-rangi, the tenth is Poutūterangi, the eleventh and twelth months. See also Kohi-tātea.

    (personal noun) Canis Major – line of stars leading southward from Rehua (Antares) and culminating in the great star triangle. A small constellation, the brightest star of which is Takurua (Sirius). Also said to be the highest of the heavens and the home of Rehua. See also Kāhui Takurua, Rehua.

      1. indiginz

        You’re more than welcome. Your blog article is really interesting and inspiring. I only had a vague recollection of what you have written about so it made me look things up (-:

      2. ordinarygood Post author

        Thanks for commenting and following my blog. I love learning more about our natural world….it’s good to share and learn from each other.

  2. realruth

    That’s fascinating, OG. The people at Stonehenge Aotearoa publish an excellent almanac with details of stars’ travels. I’ll try to contact them to ask about it.

    1. ordinarygood Post author

      Thanks Ruth. I hope your enquiry gives us all more information. The lives of cicadas are certainly mysterious.

  3. Pingback: Cicadas and Sirius « Ruth's Reflections

  4. marja

    Hagley park was indeed noisy because of them but a Dutch blogging friend from Syney told me that it is nothing compared to the size and noise they make overthere

    1. ordinarygood Post author

      Hello Marja. Thanks for popping by and commenting on my post. It seems that cicadas are found all around the world and we have 42 native species in New Zealand

  5. Pingback: Sheltering in summer | ordinarygoodness

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