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The Cicada's Song: IELTS Reading Passage with Questions & Answers

Updated on 05 December, 2023

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad Abroad Team

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The Cicada's Song: An Exploration into Nature's Timekeepers Reading Passage

In the heart of summer, when the sun reaches its zenith and the days stretch long and languid, a symphony begins in the foliage. It is not the sound of birds, nor the rustling of leaves, but the song of the cicada, nature's timekeeper, marking the seasons with its call.

The cicada is a creature of intrigue and precision, an insect whose life cycle is one of the most meticulously timed phenomena in the animal kingdom. Emerging from the ground every thirteen or seventeen years, cicadas are known for their remarkable mass synchronized emergences. The reason for these prime-numbered life cycles still puzzles scientists, though it is hypothesized to be a predator avoidance strategy.

Cicadas spend the majority of their lives underground as nymphs, feeding on the sap from tree roots. When they finally surface, metamorphosing into their adult form, their time above ground is brief and purposeful. Their song, produced by the males by rapidly vibrating their tymbals, serves as a mating call, filling the summer air with an unmistakable chorus that can reach up to 120 decibels.

The cicada's lifecycle and song are emblematic of nature's complex and rhythmic patterns. Studying these insects offers insights into topics ranging from evolution to climate change, as their emergence is closely tied to the environment. As temperatures rise, cicadas are emerging earlier, providing a clear example of how global warming affects biodiversity.


Q1. Cicadas emerge from the ground every:

A. 5 or 10 years

B. 13 or 17 years

C. 7 or 14 years

D. 10 or 15 years

Q2. The primary purpose of the cicada's song is to:

A. Scare away predators

B. Signal a change in weather

C. Attract a mate

D. Mark their territory

Q3. True or False: Cicadas spend the majority of their life cycle above ground.

Q4. Fill in the blank: Cicadas produce their song by rapidly vibrating their _______.

Q5. True or False: The cicada's life cycle is hypothesized to be prime-numbered as a strategy to maximize sunlight exposure.

Q6. Fill in the blank: The song of a cicada can reach up to _______ decibels.

Q7. True or False: Cicadas' emergence is not affected by environmental changes such as climate change.

Q8. The study of cicadas can provide valuable insights into:

A. Ocean currents

B. Human psychology

C. Evolution and climate change

D. The Earth's magnetic field

Q9. Fill in the blank: Cicadas are known for their mass synchronized emergences, which occur every _______ years.

Q10. True or False: The cicada nymphs feed on the leaves of trees while underground.


A1. B. 13 or 17 years

Explanation: Cicadas have a prime-numbered life cycle, emerging every 13 or 17 years, which is believed to help avoid predators.

A2. C. Attract a mate

Explanation: The male cicada's song is primarily a mating call, designed to attract females.

A3. False

Explanation: Cicadas spend the majority of their lives underground as nymphs, only emerging for a brief period as adults.

A4. Tymbals

Explanation: Male cicadas have a structure called tymbals, which they vibrate to produce their characteristic song.

A5. False

Explanation: The prime-numbered life cycle of cicadas is thought to be a predator avoidance strategy, not related to sunlight exposure.

A6. 120

Explanation: The cicada's song is one of the loudest in the insect world, reaching up to 120 decibels.

A7. False

Explanation: Cicadas' emergence patterns are closely linked to the environment, with changes such as global warming affecting their life cycle.

A8. C. Evolution and climate change

Explanation: The emergence of cicadas and their life cycle offer insights into evolutionary patterns and the effects of climate change.

A9. Thirteen or seventeen

Explanation: Cicadas' synchronized emergences are based on a 13 or 17-year cycle, coinciding with prime numbers.

A10. False

Explanation: While underground, cicada nymphs feed on the sap from tree roots, not leaves.

As IELTS learners delve into "The Cicada's Song," they engage with a topic rich in vocabulary and scientific intrigue, perfect for demonstrating a strong command of English in the IELTS exam. This passage, with its accompanying questions and answers, serves as an ideal practice tool, encouraging students to analyze and synthesize information while expanding their understanding of natural phenomena. By studying passages like this, students not only prepare for the IELTS Reading section but also develop a deeper appreciation for the intricate connections between life cycles and environmental factors. This article, therefore, is an invaluable resource in the IELTS preparation journey, providing learners with the content and context to succeed.

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