Summer Cicada

September 13, 2003


Provided and copyright:
Harold Sherrod, Jr.
Summary author: Harold Sherrod, Jr.

The above photos were taken last month in Las Vegas, Nevada. This insect was on the tree outside my condo, and it was buzzing madly! Cicadas are insects belonging to the family Cicadidae in the order Hemiptera (formerly Homoptera), which also contains groups such as the leafhoppers, aphids, and scale insects. Adult cicadas tend to be large (most are 1 to 2 inches in length or about 25-50mm), and most North American species have clear wings, held rooflike over the abdomen. They're generally strong fliers and spend considerable amounts of time in tree canopies. Their life cycles are quite long, usually involving multiple years spent underground as juveniles, followed by a brief (roughly 2-6 weeks) adult life above ground.

Cicadas, in which almost all of the individuals in a given location mature into adults in the same year, are referred to as periodical. The majority of cicada species are non-periodical, meaning that some adults are present in most or all years, while others show partial periodicity. As juveniles and adults, they feed on the xylem fluid of woody plants using piercing and sucking mouthparts. Typically, adult males produce a loud species-specific mate-attracting song using specialized sound-producing organs called tymbals. These sounds are among the loudest produced by any insects.

The pictures were taken with a Minolta DiMage 7i digital camera & built-in flash.