Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wildlife Wednesday - cicada

Cicadas are the sound of summer in Australia - and we've just moved into summer!

This is a Black Prince cicada, well, that's what I call them! They were the prized catch when I was a kid. This one is a little worse for wear - but I don't have a tree nearby that has cicadas on them at a level I can get to!

There are green ones (Green Grocers, which were plentiful as a kid and worth no points), yellow ones (Yellow Monday, which were quite prized and tricky to find), a Double Drummer, a Floury Baker and the Black Prince. I don't think we found many Double Drummers or Floury Bakers.

We had some we called "piss whackers" - they were the ones that peed on you when you picked them up. No idea if it was pee though! It was probably sap that they'd been sucking from the trees.

Adult cicadas only live for a few weeks. Only the males sing - it's their mating call. They can live underground for years (6-7 years) before they 'hatch' and become adults. Cicada shells are awesome! (I gave a boxful to my Pop once for Christmas - no idea what he did with them!!).

In North America, the periodic cicadas can live underground for 17 years!

The Australian Museum website has some awesome facts:

After mating, the adult female cicada lays its eggs. It does this by piercing plant stems with its ovipositor (egg-laying spike at the tip of the abdomen) and inserting the eggs into the slits it has made. The eggs hatch into small wingless cicadas which are known as nymphs. They fall to the ground and burrow below the surface. Here they live on the sap from plant roots for a period which may last several years. They shed their skin at intervals as they grow.

When the nymph reaches full size it digs its way to the surface with its front legs, which are specially adapted for digging. It generally surfaces about nightfall in late spring or early summer. The nymph then climbs on to a tree trunk or other object and sheds its skin for the last time. The fully-winged adult cicada which emerges leaves its old empty nymphal skin behind.

I heard on the radio last weekend a woman complaining about the deafening noise of cicadas and asking how she could kill them! The guys on the radio were horrified, as was I. Are you a fan of cicadas?


  1. Big fan of cicadas. Definitely agree that along with cricket on the radio, cicadas are the sound of summer!
    Love learning stuff about them here though. I thought a cicada, was a cicada, was a cicada. No black, green or yellow etc.
    Thanks for my education!

    1. Oh, I'll try to find different coloured ones and post photos. I've got Mr E taking photos of bugs for me now - only taken 13 years! LOL

      Cate xo