If you're finding the call of cicadas a little on the loud side this summer, spare a thought for Stevo Karandzulovski.
The Cordeaux Heights resident lives right next to a small reserve on Central Ave, where a chorus of cicadas have taken up residence - and the noise on a warm, summer evening is quite deafening.
"I've lived here for 11 years and while there was quite a few of them a couple of years back, this is the worst it's been," he said. "You can hear them in the house, but it's much worse outside."
"We do have to sweep them up on our concrete area, and there's a crack under the back door where they'll come in if we don't cover it up. But they mostly stick to the trees," he said.
While we are in the peak of the mating season over the Christmas and New Year period, the familiar hum may well be heard for weeks to come.
Cicada expert Nathan Emery, who works as a scientific officer at the Australian Botanic Gardens Mount Annan, said the usually loud sound this year was the result of a "mass emergence" of cicadas, which has not happened for the past seven years.
"What we are seeing is a lot more cicadas, across a number of species, appearing in mass numbers reaching the tens of thousands over a five-month period," he said.
"That's why we are noticing them. They are a lot louder when they are in such great numbers."
Mr Emery said people could expect to be hearing the cicadas through Autumn and until as late as June, due to the mass emergence.
He said the mass emergence was part of the cicadas' life cycle.
"Cicadas spend the majority of their life underground as nymphs," he said. "The larger species spend seven years underground before they emerge.
"The progeny has emerged from the previous generation seven years ago - the cycle is repeating itself."
Mr Emery said when cicadas crawl out of the soil in a nymph state, they go onto a tree before emerging from a shell as an adult cicada where they gain their colour, leaving the empty shells behind.
"The majority of their life cycle is spent underground, then depending on the species they are alive above ground for one to four weeks where their sole purpose is to find a mate," he said.
"That is why you get the males constantly singing every day as they are trying to find a female to reproduce with - the sound is their love ballad."
Mr Emery said when the adults die, birds or other animals eat their abdomen but leave behind their heads, thorax and wings.
The Illawarra has had a huge emergence of Green Grocers, Yellow Monday and Masked Devils species.
"The Green Grocer have been out in large numbers since late October, early November," he said. "Since then there has been an increase in the other larger species including the Razor Grinder, Double Drummer, Black Prince and FlouryBaker.
"I've seen a lot of Double Drummers washed up onto beaches along the Illawarra and further south too."
Cicadas typically live in eucalyptus trees and in forests, with some species, such as the Black Prince and Silver Princess, able to cope well in native trees in urban areas and CBDs with native trees..
The Beach Squeaker and White Drummer can also live in coastal sand dunes.
Mr Emery said the cicadas were largely unaffected by last summer's horror bushfire season as they up to a metre underground.
"In general, this year has shown the cicadas were not too affected by the fires as they are still emerging in areas that burnt last year," he said.
"It is really encouraging, as cicadas are an important source of food, and if the emergence occurs in the burnt areas then that can encourage other animals to come back into the recovering ecosystem, which is a positive outcome."
Mr Emery also runs a citizen science project, on iNaturatist.org called The Great Cicada Blitz where people are encouraged to submit their observations or sightings of cicadas, as well as upload audio, in order to help researches track the emergence patterns and distributions over time.
It has been running for six years and has more than 10,000 sightings.
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