Nature photography, political rants, and Martyman laughs from the ten-time award-winning author of "Cool Creatures, Hot Planet," "Endangered Edens," and the "Time Is Irreverent" series.

The time-telling insect

Marty’s photo of the day #2961: Okay, this is not the prettiest photo I’ve ever posted, but I think you’ll appreciate it more when you read this short excerpt from the Borneo chapter of my first book, Cool Creatures, Hot Planet: Exploring the Seven Continents. (So you know: Stephen grew up in the rainforest and is part of the Dusun Segama tribe, and the photo shows the cicada in the nymph stage.):

One creature that did follow a schedule was an insect called a “six o’clock cicada.” I was familiar with a variety of cicadas but had no idea an individual species could accurately tell time. According to Stephen, within five minutes of either side of six, the cicadas would begin their song.

The word song may not be the most accurate word to describe the noise they made—think electric buzz saw instead.

As we listened to what sounded like a construction crew busy in the rainforest, Stephen said, “When I was little boy, my mother always have me come home when six o’clock cicada start.”

The cicadas, incidentally, would be on time every evening for the rest of our visit.

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