Carpenter Ants Devour Emerging Cicada
July 29, 2009
Dear Bug Man:
Thought you might be able to use one of these photos in your “food chain’ category. My son called me over to an old oak tree, to see a group of carpenter ants eating what he thought was a large caterpillar. When I got there, I could see it was an emerging cicada. I don’t know if the cicada died as a result of not being able to emerge fully from it’s nymphal skin, and the ants were just scavenging the carcass. Or, if the ants started attacking it shortly after it crawled up the tree. No idea what type of cicade this one is, but parts of it were a lovely turquoise green. This was the only cicada on the whole tree–no other shells or nymphs were around. Was this cicada’s biological clock working OK?
Wildwood Park, near Toledo, OH
Thanks so much for sending us your wonderful food chain documentation of Carpenter Ants devouring an Annual Cicada that was in the process of metamorphosis. We suspect the Carpenter Ants attacked the Cicada while it was helpless and unable to escape. The Cicada’s biological clock was right on time, as they emerge during the summer. This is an Annual Cicada, and unlike the Periodical Cicadas that emerge every 14 or 17 years, the Annual Cicadas emerge each year.