Bug
Hi, Love your site. Most Aussies of my generation are familiar with Cicadas. We enjoy their singing all Summer, it reminds us of our childhoods!! I was really intrigued recently on a visit to a friends farm. We live in South East Queensland Australia about 72 miles west of Brisbane. We are in the middle of a severe & prolonged drought.However, recently there has been some welcome rain, about 4.5". This week at the farm there were huge swarms (millions) of the attached "Bug". They look like Cicadas, however, it seems unusal behaviour for them. They are very small, no more than 1" in length. I’ve only ever known Cicadas to shed & go into the trees for the duration, I have never seen them swarm en masse & never so small. We wondered if the weather has produced an unusal phenomenon or are they some other insect? I’ve tried to identify them without success. I’ve attached a pic for you.
Thanks & regards.Regards,
Julie

Hi Julie,
This is most certainly a Cicada. We did some research, and based on the protruding eyes and melanistic spots towards the apex of the forewings, we believe this to be a Bunyip Cicada in the genus Tamasa. We used Lindsay Popple’s awesome Cicada website for the identification, and he addresses the aggregation behavior thus: “Aggregation is a phenomenon observed mostly in the larger and medium sized cicada genera such as Thopha ,Psaltoda ,Macrotristria ,Tamasa and many others. Many of these species produce loud continuous choruses for long periods. The aggregating behaviour is most likely directly related to mate signalling opportunities. If a male cicada recognises the frequency components of another male singing he will fly in near to where the sound is coming from. He will then commence singing in order to signal to females that have already flown in, in response to the original males song. The process continues until the entire brood is restricted to a small group of trees. A possible, though indirect, by-product of this is that the sheer number of males singing in an area may confuse predators. ” We have written to Lindsay to see if he can substantiate our identification. Here is Lindsay’s quick reply and correction: “Hi there Daniel, You were close with the identification. It is a sister genus to Tamasa, a grass cicada called the ‘Grass Fairie’ or ‘Yellow Sugarcane Cicada’ Parnkalla muelleri. See: http://152.98.200.7/ins-info/Par.htm Cheers, Lindsay.”

Thank you. This is very interesting! We appreciate your efforts. I have attached a list of “flora” recently documented (by LandCare Australia spotters) on the property. This might be of interest in understanding the Cicadas habitat? The swarming (aggregation)seemed very random? but probably not! just the sheer numbers made it seem so. We had them in ears, noses etc. Our farmer friend was certainly “complaining” of incessant noise levels.I will have a look at the w/site mentioned. I was unaware that we had such a small species of Cicada? All of the ones mentioned on your w/site are familiar to us. Regards
Julie

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