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Nature & You: 'Heat bugs' are summer's unofficial mascot

Whether you call it a cicada, locust or "heat bug," this insect makes a familiar summer sound. [THINKSTOCK PHOTO]

Whether you call it a cicada, locust or "heat bug," this insect makes a familiar summer sound. [THINKSTOCK PHOTO]

'Heat bugs' are summer's unofficial mascot

Oklahoma has an avid interest in things wild and free. An official state bird shares the list with the official state tree. Apparently, however, there has been a lapse in this naming procedure. What has fallen through the cracks is an official state designation of a mascot for the summer season.

Not being one who would squander an opportunity such as this, I'll shout out dibs on having my suggestion thrown into the hat. My recommendation is that we convince the state legislature and the governor to sign off on making the "heat bug" the official summer mascot for Oklahoma.

You'd be well-advised not to whip out your smartphones and do an internet search for a creature called a "heat bug." I'll have to 'fess up that it is a name of my own imagination.

Most people around these parts call these insects "locusts." Many scientists bristle when they hear that word; the nit-picky professionals insist that the correct term is cicadas. Entomologists want to reserve the "locust" designation for a type of migratory grasshopper.

I am more of a laid-back sort of individual who is ever so inclined to just make up a name if that seems the appropriate thing to do.

My point is this: What would a central Oklahoma summer be without the ever-present "heat bugs?" Their noisy buzzing sound makes the hot outdoor environment reverberate with their courtship calls. If the summer day should, perchance, take a turn for unseasonably cool temperatures, the "heat bugs" will immediately stop their incessant racket. These are insects of Oklahoma's unpleasant summer temperatures.

What would a summer be without these insects?

Perish the thought!

— Neil Garrison, NewsOK Contributor

Neil Garrison was the longtime naturalist at a central Oklahoma nature center.

Neil Garrison

Neil Garrison is an outdoor nature enthusiast. He is a graduate of Oklahoma State University/Stillwater; he earned a B.S. degree in Wildlife Ecology. Prior to his 2009 retirement, he was the Naturalist at a central Oklahoma nature center for 30... Read more ›

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