What could this be and is it dangerous?
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
August 10, 2011 9:49 am
Hi bugman.
Very interesting and informative site. I came across this insect, rather it came across me the other night. I walked out on to my front porch and it appeared to be making a warning noise (clicking) and movements to warn me off. Like it was squaring off to me. A little frightened, I hit it with a flyswatter and then was able to get a photo of it.Now living in North Carolina, there are a lot of insects that I have come across that are so unusual to me that I feel I have joined the ”bug of the month” club. I turned it over to have a look at the underside and noticed what looked to be a stinger looking appendage, but it came back to consciousness and flew away before I could take a picture of the underside.
Any help with identification would be appreciated.
Signature: James in NC

Annual Cicada

Hi James,
This is an Annual Cicada in the genus
Tibicen.  There are many species in the genus that look very similar, and we are very reluctant to try to identify different species.  You can view some of the possibilities on bugGuide.  We get several identification requests each summer for enormous flies that turn out to be Cicadas.  Annual Cicadas generally emerge in July and August, and because of their resemblance to flies and the time of their appearance, they are sometimes called Harvest Flies.  Annual Cicadas typically spend several years underground as nymphs before emerging and metamorphosing as winged adults.  The name Annual Cicada distinguishes them from the Periodical Cicadas that appear every 13 or 17 years, depending upon the species.  The Periodical Cicadas are also called 17 Year Locusts, though they are not true locusts.  Cicadas are not dangerous, however, like other Hemipterans, they have piercing/sucking mouthparts that are strong enough to pierce young tree stems.  We have received at least two reports of painful bites from Cicadas, though in both cases, the bites occurred because of careless handling.  You do not need to fear a Cicada attack, though should you decide to handle them, stay away from the mouth.

Update:  August 27, 2011
Hi Daniel.
Thank you for the timely response. After reading how busy you guys are I guessed it would be days/weeks before I heard back and I do appreciate your effort.
I am not normally a random bug killer but the aggressive behavior in this particular instance brought it out in me.
Just for your information, while up visiting in Canada last summer I ran across phoney wasp nests that claimed to stop other wasps from building nests nearby (within 200feet). I took a chance and bought a paper version and a cloth version. They work. I haven’t had a single issue with nest building wasps since I placed them. Just the occasional solitary variety like the mud-dobber (?). I brought back some for my neighbor this year and she has hung them up now. So we can see if they work or if I just had really good luck. Normally we have several varieties of nests to contend with.
I will let you know in the future how they back up their claim. Now if I could find a harmless way to rid our house of mosquitos and flies… That would be a trick
Regards, James
James Rankine

Thanks for the tip on Wasp’s Nests James.  We will create a unique posting with that information.

Location: North Carolina

2 Responses to Annual Cicada

  1. Dave says:

    Cicadas: edible and tasty!
    Hi Daniel,
    Funny you should say ‘stay away from its mouth.’ Once this insect is properly cooked, putting in the mouth is a fine idea. Cicadas are a popular food in many parts of the world: a guy from Uganda I spoke with yesterday told me that they’re called “Nyanyangize” over there. This is probably another example of the onomatopeic [sp?] tendencies wherein cicadas are named after the sounds they make. He raved about their tastiness.


    • bugman says:

      Hi Dave,
      We meant to stay away from the Cicada’s mouth, not to keep Cicada’s out of an entomophage’s mouth.

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