Cicada from South Africa: New Unnamed Species? or Orange Wing Cicada

Subject: Possible Deaths Head Hawk Moth?
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
December 26, 2013 12:08 am
I found this moth last night after investigating a very loud screeching sound in my house. Turns out that it was this moth. Looks similar to a Deaths Head Hawk Moth, but not sure as markings seem different from what I have seen online.
Your views?
Signature: Ryan

Cicada:  Is this the newly discovered species????

Hi Ryan,
This is not a moth, but rather, a Cicada.  Cicadas are capable of making sounds which would explain the loud screeching you heard.  We typically see photos of Cicadas with clear wings, so this individual with its forewing markings (that do resemble the wings of a Death’s Head Hawkmoth) and brightly colored underwings is quite distinctive.  We did not think it would be difficult to identify to the species level, and we did find matching images on the Photographs from South Africa website, however, the Cicada is not identified to the species level.  Continued research led us to a matching photo on the Wildlife Extra News site with the subject 18 New Species of Invertebrate Discovered in South Africa.  The photo is captioned:  “A cicada currently in the process of being named and described. Photo credit Earthwatch.”  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to find more current information on the name of this unusual Cicada.

Hi there,
Many thanks for the fast and informative response! Cicada was my second option, but didn’t think so due to the wings.
Very cool to experience something that unusual flying into my house twice on the same evening 🙂

Update:  Possibly Orange Wing Cicada
Thanks to a comment to this posting, we now believe this may be an Orange Wing Cicada in the genus Platypleura.  There are photos posted to ISpot that look very similar to the Orange Wing Cicada.

5 thoughts on “Cicada from South Africa: New Unnamed Species? or Orange Wing Cicada”

  1. Do these cicadas burrow down 20 cm or so and remain there for a year, only emerging once the soil temperature has reached 15° C or a little higher?

    • We are not certain of the individual species life cycle of this particular Cicada, but most Cicada nymphs remain underground for several years and soil temperature is apparently a metamorphosis trigger for many species.


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