Facts about cicadas

Cicada facts

  • Adult cicadas most live 2 to three weeks but some live only for a day or two or less.
  • It is easy to tell the sex of cicada adults. Females have blade-like ovipositors visible on the bottom surface of the abdomen, and the males do not. Males possess a pair of sound-producing, or “singing”, organs located on the sides of the first abdominal segment.
  • The male cicada makes the loudest sound in the insect world; they have their own built-in sound system.
  • The sound made by the male cicada can carry for up to a mile.
  • The sound is made by vibrating the ribbed plates in a pair of amplifying cavities at the base of the abdomen.
  • Each sound organ consists of a large plate-like structure, the operculum, which covers a cavity containing a white or yellowish membrane and an oval, ribbed, drum-like structure called a timbal. Timbals are vibrated by strong muscles to produce the cicada song.
  • Each species has its own distinctive call and only attracts females of its own kind even though rather similar species may co-exist.
  • A female cicada lays her eggs in the twigs of trees and shrubs. She places the eggs in small holes that she makes with a sawlike organ near the tip of her abdomen.
  • The female cicada can lay four hundred to six hundred eggs.
  • After the adults have mated both will die.
  • Different species can be heard at different times of the day. While some prefer mating during the day, others prefer the evening hours.
  • Cicadas have large compound eyes situated one on each side of the head They also have three very small glistening simple eyes (ocelli) on the top of the head.
  • Cicadas feed by piercing the surface of plants with their mouth stylets. They then suck up the sap through a tube formed by the concave surfaces of two of the stylets. They also suck water out of moist sand on the banks of streams.
  • Male cicadas have been seen to attempt to mate with other males as well as with dead females.