Thursday, April 5, 2012

Today's Trivia - Cicadas

Although relatively loud, cicada song can be comforting and even hypnotic at times. This week’s useless but interesting information is about these interesting critters.

- Cicadas spend most of their lives as nymphs, burrowed underground and sucking sap from tree roots. They emerge once every 17 years.

- Some cicadas produce loud, noisy calls that can be heard up to 1 mile (1.5 km) away.

- The average life span of a cicada is 17 years.

- Cicadas are said to make good eating because they are low in fat and high in protein. They are considered a delicacy by many people around the world.

- Male cicadas die soon after mating. Females lay 400 to 600 eggs in as many as 40 to 50 different nests before they die.

- There are about 2,500 species of cicada around the world, and many of them remain unclassified.

- Cicadas are often colloquially called locusts, although they are unrelated to true locusts, which are a kind of grasshopper. Cicadas are related to leafhoppers and spittlebugs.

- Cicadas typically do not bite or sting; they may only do so after mistaking a person's arm or other part of their body as a tree or plant limb and attempt to feed.

- The adult insect, sometimes called an imago, is usually 2 to 5 cm (1 to 2 in) long, although some tropical species can reach 15 cm (6 in), e.g. Pomponia imperatoria from Malaysia.

- Cicadas have three small eyes, or ocelli, located on the top of the head between the two large eyes that match the colour of the large eyes.

- Cicadas sounds are among the loudest of all insect-produced sounds. Technically, their song is loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss in humans, should the cicada sing just outside the listener's ear.

- Some small species have songs so high in pitch that the noise is inaudible to humans.

- In China male cicadas are kept in cages in people's homes so that the homeowners can enjoy the cicadas' songs.

- 17 Year Cicadas have red eyes, but they can also have white, gray, blue, yellow, brown, or multi-colored ones.

- Cicadas don’t eat solid foods — instead they use their slender, straw-like mouth parts to drink tree fluids.

- Only male cicadas make the sound they’re famous for. Males have organs on their abdomen called tymbals. Muscles pop the tymbals in and out, which creates the sound we hear. Males make different calls for different reasons, and each species has a unique sound. Females can make sound too — they flick their wings to respond to males.

- Cicadas emerge after the soil temperature exceeds 64º F, which is usually in late May.

- It is easy to tell male cicadas from female cicadas. To do so turn the cicada over: the female will have a groove in which is found the ovipositor; the male’s abdomen will terminate with a square shaped flap.

- There are three different species of 17-year periodical cicadas, and they are named Magicicada septendecim, Magicicada cassini and Magicicada septendecula.

- There are four species of 13-year cicadas that are named Magicicada tredecim, Magicicada neotredecim, Magicicada tredecassini, and Magicicada tredecula.

- Groups of cicadas that share the same emergence years are called broods.

- Although adult cicadas do not sting or bite humans, and they do not carry diseases, they can harm young trees when female cicadas lay their eggs in the tree’s new growth.


  1. Very interesting information on the cicada - I've never read anything about them before. I'm glad to learn they don't bite!

    Butterflies are fascinating creatures - what would summer be without them?

    1. They are very unusual. And they are huge! (The butterfly post was added here by mistake. It was posted earlier. OOOP!)

  2. Holy cow, 17 years? I had no idea they lived that long... well the females anyway! ;) And how neat that they are kept in cages, I prefer their loud noises outside though. :)

    1. They are pretty amazing. They are one of my favourite summer sounds.