Coming to a cinema near you these holidays...
There are no cicadas in Tasmania. Coming from NSW, the summer hum of cicadas was a familiar sound. Since moving to Tasmania five years ago I've never heard one.
You get to know every sound in the country. There's no background city hum so you get to recognise each distinct sound, birds, frogs, insects and a new sound stands out. A loud new sound stands out dramatically and prompts you to rush outside to check it out...
There was what looked like a small "black prince" on the fence post which flew off before I could photograph it.
So, I chased it 20M up the driveway to another fence but as I got to within 1M it flew into the bucks' paddock.
I ran back down the drive, through the gate and ran in the direction I last saw it flying then stood very, very still. A few minutes later it began to sing again, so I aproached the source of the sound in a tuft of grass very carefully...and he flew off behind the bucks' shed!
I bolted up to the buck's shed and ran behind it stopped, waited and listened. Then I heard a sound, a new sound. My periphal vision caught some movement at my feet and my heart lept out of my chest:
This jet black beauty was over 2M long, thicker than my wrist, its' head is the size of my fist (zoom in) and was probably a tiger snake. Fortunately it was significantly more terrified of me (it could undoubtedly see up the utility kilt) and was heading as fast as it could into its' bolt hole, where I left it.
Once my heart rate was back under control, I listened for a few minutes for the cicada but there was nothing to be heard so I sulked off back out of the paddock.
As I neared the gate, above the sound of frogs and crickets I heard the new sound again, from the direction of the bucks' shed! So I ran back through the paddock like I was in a Dr Who episode, up the hill, behind the bucks' shed and stood with my ears to the wind and my eyes to the ground.
I heard the sound again and walked steadily to the wildlife corridor, through the gate towards an old, moss covered fence post and started taking photos from about 2M away but this time I was eventually able to get only centimeters away:
What a little beauty. Their sound is very unlike that of cicadas in NSW and I have thus far only heard and seen this one. Good luck mating little fella!
So of course I did a little research on the intarwebs when I got back:
many Tasmanian invertebrates (and, of course, vertebrates and plants) are of Gondwanan origin, some reveal even more ancient lineages that extend back to Pangea - the supercontinent that predated Gondwana beyond 200 million years ago.
Nearly half of the invertebrate species found within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, for example, are found nowhere else on Earth.
IF YOU thought the noise of cicadas in the bush around Northern Tasmania this year was louder than usual, you would be correct.
Launceston entomologist Simon Fearn said our first wetter summer for a while had seen the hatching of millions of the large and loud black insects.
Many people around the world regularly eat cicadas. They are known to have been eaten in Ancient Greece as well as China, Malaysia, Burma, Latin America, and the Congo. Female cicadas are prized for being meatier.