Cicada Central

This site is designed to be a clearinghouse for scientific information about cicadas.

Cicadas are flying, plant-sucking insects of the Order Hemiptera; their closest relatives are leafhoppers, treehoppers, and fulgoroids. In general, adult cicadas are large (most are 25-50mm), with prominent wide-set eyes, short antennae, and clear wings held roof-like over the abdomen, though they are surprisingly diverse in their appearance and habits. Cicadas are probably best known for their conspicuous acoustic signals or "songs", which the males make using specialized structures called tymbals, found on the abdomen. Female cicadas do not have tymbals, but in some species the females produce clicking or snapping sounds with their wings. Some males augment their tymbal sounds by making wing clicks as well. After mating, females lay eggs in grass, bark or twigs; the eggs hatch later in the season and the new nymphs burrow underground. As juveniles and adults, cicadas use piercing and sucking mouthparts to feed on the xylem fluid of plants.

All but a few cicada species have multiple-year life cycles, most commonly 2-8 years. In many species, adults can be found every year because the population is not developmentally synchronized; these are often called "annual" cicada species. By contrast, the cicadas in a periodical cicada population are synchronized, so that almost all of them mature into adults in the same year.

Follow the links to learn more about these fascinating insects.



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