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Cicada insect information & pictures

Cicada insect information & picturesSee picture on the right. These are called Cicadas, Harvest-flies, and "Locusts."

The eggs are laid in twigs. The newlyhatched young drops to the ground and, burrowing into it, feeds by sucking the juices of roots. It lives in this way for some time (the duration depending on the species), its appearance changing but slightly. Finally, it digs out by means of its enlarged front feet, crawls on a tree-trunk or some such thing, splits down the back and liberates the adult.

The adult male "sings," often very loudly and shrilly, by vibrating membranes stretched over a pair of sound-chambers situated, one at each side, near the base of the abdomen.

The Periodical Cicada or Seventeen-year Locust -- Thirteen-year Locust in the South - is Magicicada (formerly Tibicina) septendecim.

The adult has the same general shape as its relatives but its "music boxes" at the base of the abdomen have no cover and its eyes and the principal veins of the wings are red. There is nothing mystical in this color or in the W on the wings, although the sudden appearance of the adults in large numbers has been supposed to foretell war.

For about sixteen years, in the North, the young suck at the roots of plants. Toward the end of this period scalelike rudiments of wings appear. In the spring of the 17th year the nymph makes its way to the surface of the ground by a smooth, firm tunnel.

Sometimes, especially if the soil be moist and leaf-covered, it constructs a "chimney" over the exit-hole. Then, from late May to early July, it and the other members of its brood crawl out singly or in droves and, fastening on some support, molt to become adults that have a week or so of aerial life to recompense them for the long period of preparation.

There are a score or more of different broods, each of which has a rather definite, often restricted, distribution and time of emergence. Suppose there are three such broods in your neighborhood. One of them (that is, the adults) may have appeared in 2004 ; its next appearance was in 1921. Another might be 2006, 2023 and so on; while the third might be 2010, 2027, and so on. As a matter of fact, these are actual broods, although they may not be the ones of your neighborhood.

However, the example shows that we may have Seventeen-year Cicadas oftener than every seventeen years, to say nothing of the possibility in the various broods of laggards or extra-spry individuals that do not appear on schedule time.

There are numerous other species of this family, the differentiation being based largely on the form of the male genital plates, although there are size- and colordifferences and an attentive ear can detect differences in their "music." Of the genus Cicada (as here limited, Tettigia), the small hieroglyphica, with an almost transparent abdomen, may be found in pine barrens, and is our only species.

Read more on Cicadas at: Cicada Pictures

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