Acoustic communication in Okanagana rimosa (Say) (Homoptera: Cicadidae)

TitleAcoustic communication in Okanagana rimosa (Say) (Homoptera: Cicadidae)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsStölting H, Moore TE, Lakes-Harlan R

The cicada Okanagana rimosa (Say) has an acoutic communication system with three types of loud timbal sounds: (i) A calling song lasting several seconds to about 1 min which consists of a sequence of chirps at a repetition rate of 83 chirps per second. Each chirp of about 6 ms duration contains 4-5 pulses. The sound level of the calling song is 87-90 dB SPL at a distance of 15 cm. (ii) An amplitude modulated courtship song with increasing amplitude and repetition rate of chirps and pulses. (iii) A protest squawk with irregular chirp and pulse structure. The spectra of all three types are similar and show main energy peaks at 8-10 kHz. Only males sing, and calling song production is influenced by the songs of other males, resulting in an almost continuous sound in dense populations. In such populations, the calling songs overlap and the temporal structure of individual songs is obscured within the habitat. The calling song of the broadly sympatric, closely related species O. canadensis (Provander) is similar in frequency content, but distinct in the temporal pattern (24 chirps per second, 24 ms chirp duration, eight pulses per chirp) which is likely important for species separation in sympatric populations. The hearing threshold of the auditory nerve is similar for females and males of O. rimosa and most sensitive at 4-5 kHz. Experiments in the field show that female phonotaxis of O. rimosa depends on parameters of the calling song. Most females are attracted to calling song models with a 9 kHz carrier frequency (peak frequency of the calling song), but not to models with a 5 kHz carrier frequency (minimum hearing threshold). Phonotaxis depends on temporal parameters of the conspecific song, especially chirp repetition rate. Calling song production is influenced by environmental factors, and likelihood to sing increases with temperature and brightness of the sky. Correspondingly, females perform phonotaxis most often during sunny conditions with temperatures above 22 C. Non-mated and mated females are attracted by the acoustic signals, and the percentage of mated females performing phonotaxis increases during the season.