Cicadas facts
Cicadas life cycle
Cicadas feeding habits
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Cicadas facts

Cicadas are members of the Hemiptera, then the Homoptera, the Homoptera is often considered an order in its own rite these days but in some books you will find it designated as a suborder of the Hemiptera. They are then members of the superfamily Cicadoidea, and the Family Cicadidae. There are about 1600 species of Cicada in the world, some of the largest are in the genera Pomponia and Tacua.

picture of periodical cicada (Magicicada)Cicadas are mainly warm-temperate to tropical in habitat. There are around 200 species in Australia compared with about 100 species in the Palaearctic and only 1 species in the UK. The British species is Melampsalta montana (was Cicadetta) which is widespread outside of the UK.

Generally speaking cicadas have life cycles that last from one to several years, most of this time is spent as a nymph under the ground feeding on the xylem fluids of plants by piercing their roots and sucking out the fluids. Some species take a very long time to develop and the periodical cicadas of the genus Magicicada of North America are well known because some of them have a 17 cicades year life cycle. Cicades can be found in Tennessee, Ohio, Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois and other parts of the US like some parts of the Mississippi.

There are 3 species of periodical cicada, each of which has two forms, a 17 year form and a 13 year form; they are Magicicada septendecim, Magicicada septendecula and Magicicada cassini. Some authorities claim that the 13 year form of each species should be a species in its own rite, in this case they are named; Magicicada tredecim, Magicicada tredecassini and Magicicada tredecula. Of the three species (called Decim, Cassini and Decula for short) Decim is the most common in the north of their range, Decula is rare all over and Cassini is most common around the Mississippi valley.

The common names for cicadas vary widely around the world. In Australia, children were the first to coin the common name for many cicadas - names that have been dutifully passed down from generation to generation of cicada hunters.

Probably the best known and most mysterious is the Black Prince (Psaltoda plaga) followed closely by the Green Grocer (Cyclochila australasiae). Other popular names include the Double Drummer (Thopha saccata), Redeye (Psaltoda moerens), Floury Baker (Abricta curvicosta) and Cherrynose (Macrotristria angularis).

Two other common names becoming more widely accepted are Hairy Cicada (Tettigarcta tomentosa and T. crinita) and Bladder Cicada (Cystosoma saundersi). The exact origin of most of these names is unclear, but also the Yellow Monday and Green Grocer were in popular.