What Animals Eat Cicadas: A Friendly Guide to Cicada Predators

Cicadas are fascinating insects known for their loud, distinctive songs and emerging from the ground in large numbers after spending years underground. These large plant-feeding insects provide a valuable food source for a variety of animals due to their abundance and nutritional content.

When cicadas emerge, many animals alter their diet to take advantage of this temporary bounty. Some of the creatures you might observe feasting on these insects include birds, mammals, and even reptiles. The availability of cicadas can create a feeding frenzy, allowing these animals to thrive during their emergence period.

Cicada Life Cycle

In the cicada life cycle, there are three main stages: egg, nymph, and adult. Let’s explore each stage in more detail.

Egg stage: Female cicadas lay their eggs on the branches of trees or shrubs. The eggs typically hatch in 6-10 weeks, giving birth to tiny nymphs.

Nymph stage: As nymphs, cicadas live underground, feeding on tree roots. Their life cycle in this stage can last 2-3 years for annual cicadas, while periodical cicadas have either 13-year or 17-year cycles. Throughout this time, the nymphs go through several molting stages, shedding their exoskeletons as they grow.

Some characteristics of nymphs include:

  • Brownish color
  • No wings
  • Strong front legs for digging

Adult stage: Once the nymphs are ready to emerge from the ground, they go through one final molting before transforming into adult cicadas. Adult males are known for their loud courting sounds, which they produce by vibrating membranes on their abdomen.

Adult cicadas have the following features:

  • Black bodies
  • Large red-brown eyes
  • Membranous wings with orange veins

Adult cicadas typically have a short lifespan of 2-4 weeks above ground, during which they mate and lay eggs to restart the life cycle. Various animals, such as birds, spiders, and mammals, feed on both nymphs and adult cicadas to maintain the balance within the ecosystem.

Physiology of Cicadas

Body Structure

Cicadas have a unique body structure that helps them survive and thrive in their environment. Their bodies are divided into three sections: head, thorax, and abdomen. The head features a pair of large red-brown eyes and small antennae. The thorax is where you’ll find the wings and legs. The membranous wings have orange veins and can span twice the length of their bodies. Their legs are short, designed for crawling rather than jumping.

  • Head: Contains eyes, mouthparts, and antennae
  • Thorax: Houses legs and wings
  • Abdomen: Contains internal organs

Senses

You might wonder how cicadas perceive the world around them. Their primary senses are vision and sound.

Vision

Cicadas have two large compound eyes on the sides of their head, which give them a wide field of vision. These red-brown eyes allow them to navigate their surroundings and locate potential mates.

Sound

Besides their vision, cicadas rely heavily on their hearing ability. Male cicadas produce loud courting sounds to attract females. They have unique organs called tymbals, located on their abdomen, that help them produce those sounds. In contrast, female cicadas can perceive these sounds via their tympana, a pair of organs that function as ears.

Sense Used For Organ Responsible
Vision Navigate surroundings, find mates Compound eyes
Sound Mating, communication Tymbals, tympana

Cicada Types

Let’s explore the two main types of cicadas that you’ll likely come across: the periodical cicadas and the annual cicadas.

Periodical Cicadas

Periodical cicadas are unique because they spend a significant portion of their lives underground, with some species hiding for 13 or 17 years before emerging as adults. This unusual life cycle is what sets them apart from other cicadas.

Here are a few key characteristics of periodical cicadas:

  • Found in North America
  • Black body with red eyes
  • Emerges in large broods

There are over 3,000 species of cicadas worldwide, and around 190 of these species occur in North America1. One common example of a periodical cicada in the United States is the Magicicada genus.

Annual Cicadas

Annual cicadas, also called dog-day cicadas, have a shorter life cycle, spending up to five years feeding as nymphs underground2. However, populations emerge every year, hence the name “annual” cicadas.

Key features of annual cicadas include:

  • A green or camouflaged color theme
  • Smaller antennae compared to periodical cicadas
  • Active during mid to late summer

Comparing both cicadas, you can see a clear difference:

Aspect Periodical Cicadas Annual Cicadas
Lifecycle 13 or 17 years Up to 5 years
Emergence frequency Large broods Small populations
Coloration Black body Green or camouflaged

Now that you’re familiar with these two types of cicadas, you can better understand the habits and life cycles of these fascinating insects.

What Animals Eat Cicadas

Birds

Many species of birds enjoy cicadas as a nutritious treat. They can be seen feasting on these insect delicacies when they emerge. Examples of birds that eat cicadas include:

  • Robins
  • Blue Jays
  • Woodpeckers

Mammals

Among the mammals that consider cicadas to be a tasty snack, you’ll find rodents, bats, and larger mammals like foxes and raccoons. Some examples are:

  • Squirrels
  • Rats
  • Opossums
  • Skunks

Invertebrates

Cicadas also fall prey to various invertebrates. Cicada-hunter wasps, spiders, and other insects see them as a valuable food source. A few examples of invertebrate predators include:

  • Cicada-hunter wasps
  • Ground beetles
  • Dragonflies
  • Robber flies

Pets

Cats and dogs might show interest in cicadas. While it’s not harmful for your pets to eat cicadas in moderation, it’s important to ensure they don’t consume them excessively or pick them up from areas where pesticides may have been applied. Details on cicadas and pets include:

  • Cicadas are not poisonous or venomous.
  • Overconsumption can cause gastrointestinal upset in pets.
  • Excessive consumption of cicadas can lead to dental issues in dogs, as their hard exoskeleton might damage canines’ teeth.

Remember, if you are ever in doubt, always consult your veterinarian for guidance on the appropriate dietary choices for your pet.

Unique Cicada Predators

Cicada Killer Wasp

Cicadas have various predators, but the cicada killer wasp is one of the most noteworthy. These wasps specifically target cicadas for their offspring. You might be curious about how they do this.

The cicada killer wasp is known scientifically as Sphecius speciosus. They are large, solitary wasps that capture cicadas to feed their young. Here are some fascinating points about this predator:

  • They are among the largest wasps in North America
  • Female wasps capture and paralyze cicadas with a sting
  • The paralyzed cicadas are deposited in underground nests for the larvae to consume

The lifecycle of the cicada killer wasp revolves around hunting cicadas. After mating, female wasps begin searching for cicadas. Once found, they paralyze them, then drag them to a prepared underground burrow. They lay an egg on each paralyzed cicada, which will hatch and devour their immobile but still living meal.

Cicada Killer Wasp Other Cicada Predators
Targets only cicadas Eat a variety of insects
Solitary wasp Many are social or communal predators
Paralyzes prey for its offspring Typically consume prey immediately

Remember that aside from the cicada killer wasp, there are many other predators that find cicadas to be a tasty snack. However, the unique hunting behavior and lifecycle of the cicada killer wasp make them a fascinating subject for those interested in nature’s more unusual predator-prey relationships.

Cicada Nourishment

From Plants

When cicadas feed, they mainly consume plant roots in their nymph stage. These young cicadas rely on the sap from plants like grass, trees, and bushes to provide nourishment. For example, they may consume sap from tree roots or grass blades. This sap provides them with various nutrients such as water, protein, and minerals like zinc and iron.

The adult cicada, however, feeds less frequently. They mainly focus on reproducing and laying eggs on tree branches. Even so, they may still occasionally consume plant fluids like sap from tree branches1.

From Soil

In their nymph stage, cicadas are also nourished by resources found within the soil. They feed on minerals and nutrients that are essential for their growth and development2. Some sources of nourishment from the soil include:

  • Seeds: Cicada nymphs may feed on the seeds of various plants, extracting nutrients to support their development.
  • Nuts: Nymphs may also consume nuts, which offer a rich source of proteins and minerals.
  • Berries: Soil-dwelling cicadas can feed on buried berries, which provide vital nutrients as well.

Here is a comparison table highlighting the major sources of nourishment for cicadas:

Source of Nourishment Nymphs Adults
Plant Roots Yes (main source) Rarely, if ever
Grass Yes No
Trees Yes Occasionally
Soil (seeds, nuts, berries) Yes No

Remember, while cicadas mainly obtain their nutrition from plant roots and soil resources, adult cicadas focus more on mating and reproduction than feeding.

Geographical Distribution of Cicadas

Cicadas are fascinating insects known for their distinctive, loud chirping sounds. They can be found in various regions around the world. In North America, there are around 190 cicada species, with the United States being home to a significant number of them1. Maryland and Pennsylvania, for instance, are two states known for having a large population of cicadas.

These insects inhabit diverse habitats, from forests to grasslands. Surprisingly, the one continent where you won’t find them is Antarctica2. Some prominent cicada species in the United States include the periodical cicada and the dog-day cicada3.

To provide a clearer picture of cicada distribution, here’s a comparison table for your reference:

Region Cicada Species Notable Facts
North America 190 species United States has a significant population
United States Maryland and Pennsylvania have large numbers
Antarctica None Cicadas are not present

Here are some characteristics of cicadas’ habitats:

  • Diverse environments: From forests to grasslands, cicadas can adapt to various settings.
  • Absence in Antarctica: This is the only continent where cicadas are not present due to the extreme conditions.

Now that you have a better understanding of the geographical distribution of cicadas, remember to keep an eye out for these fascinating insects in your local environment.

Common Misunderstandings About Cicadas

Misunderstanding 1: Cicadas are locusts

Cicadas are often mistakenly thought of as locusts. However, they are not related to locusts, which are a type of grasshopper. The confusion may arise due to their similar appearance and the fact that both insects can emerge in large numbers.

Misunderstanding 2: Cicadas are dangerous

Cicadas are generally harmless to humans, pets, and plants. They have no venom and don’t bite or sting. In fact, many animals, such as birds, bats, and wasps, rely on cicadas as a food source during their mass emergences.

Misunderstanding 3: Cicadas are toxic

Cicadas are considered non-toxic and are even consumed by humans in some parts of the world. However, it is essential to ensure that the cicadas you collect for consumption come from a clean environment.

Misunderstanding 4: Eating cicadas can cause an allergic reaction

Some people might be concerned that eating cicadas could lead to an allergic reaction. While this is a possibility, it is rare, and only affects individuals who are allergic to shellfish, as both cicadas and shellfish share some similar proteins.

To summarize, here are some key points about cicadas:

  • Cicadas are not locusts; they are a different species of insect.
  • They are harmless to humans, pets, and plants.
  • Cicadas are non-toxic and can be safely consumed if gathered appropriately.
  • Allergic reactions to eating cicadas are rare and primarily affect those with a shellfish allergy.

Cicadas’ Role in the Ecosystem

Cicadas are fascinating insects, whose appearance in large swarms can have significant effects on the ecosystem. These insects serve as a major food source for various wild species of animals during their population growth periods.

For instance, birds, small mammals, and even reptiles like turtles eagerly feast on cicadas. These insects provide a protein-rich meal for these animals, which contributes to their own population growth in response to the abundant food source.

In addition to being a nutritious meal for different animals, cicadas also help with soil aeration. Their nymphs create tunnels in the ground while feeding on tree roots, which improves soil quality by allowing air, water, and nutrients to penetrate more easily.

While their presence might seem overwhelming during a swarm, cicadas actually play a key role in maintaining the balance of the ecosystem. So, the next time you hear the buzzing sound of cicadas, remember that they’re providing sustenance for various wild animal species and contributing positively to our environment.

Additional Topics

Cicadas as Food

Cicadas can be a sustainable food source for both humans and animals. They are rich in protein and have a low environmental impact compared to many other food sources. In fact, cicadas are edible and can be prepared in various ways for human consumption.

As an example, you can cook cicadas by frying, boiling, or even roasting them. A popular method is to dip them in melted chocolate, creating a unique and nutritious treat. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your cicada recipes, as they can be a tasty and eco-friendly alternative to traditional protein sources.

Here are some points about using cicadas as food:

  • Environmentally friendly
  • High in protein
  • Can be prepared in various ways
  • Eaten by both humans and animals

Remember that when eating cicadas or serving them to others, it is essential to ensure they are cooked properly for safety and enhanced flavor. Embrace the potential of this natural, renewable, and friendly food source in your kitchen.

Footnotes

  1. DNR: Entomology: Periodical Cicada 2 3

  2. Cicadas | Home & Garden Information Center 2 3

  3. https://hort.extension.wisc.edu/articles/cicadas/

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Green Grocer Cicada

 

What’s this bug
Dear Bug Man
My name is Nicholas and my sister’s name is Emma. We were wondering what sort of bug this is? Regards,
Nicholas and Emma

Hi Nicholas and Emma,
We are nearly certain this is an Australian Green Grocer Cicada, Cyclochila virens.

Letter 2 – Green Grocer Cicada

 

What’s That Bug?
Hi,
Just out of curiosity — enclosed is a bug/fly/bee picture I took just a few minutes ago. Can you make out what it is? At first, I thought it was the Virescent Green Metallic Bee, but the green on this fella is not metallic – it’s just bright green. And, it doesn’t have big hairy legs. Also, it doesn’t have the 3-part segmented body like a bee would have. It’s about 1.5 inches long (from tip of the head to the tail) and maybe slightly less than half an inch wide (you can make a rough comparison with the blue standard-sized Kong doggie rubber bone). I tried Googling for more information about this insect — unfortunately, I can’t find anything that’s remotely close to this big fella. And instead, I found your website. 🙂 Oh, just in case this might help, I’m from Melbourne, Australia. Thanks!
Cheers!
Lynn
Minutes later: Oops! I found out what this is already — it’s a cicada! Sorry to trouble you!

Hi Lynn,
We are very happy you figured out this beauty is a Cicada. The photo isn’t detailed enough to be certain, but it might be a Green Grocer, Cyclochila virens.

Letter 3 – Golden Silk Spider eats Hieroglyphic Cicada

 

Pedator/Prey photos
Thought you might enjoy some pictures taken in southeastern Georgia of some golden silk spiders and their prey. I am particularly interested in the cicada, any ideas what species that is? (Skidaway Island, GA)
Thanks alot,
Anthony

Hi Anthony,
The Cicada is a Hieroglyphic Cicada, Neocicada hieroglyphica. Thanks for the great photo.

Letter 4 – Green Grocer: Cicada from Australia

 

Bug, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Bugman,
I found this huge green bug in my back yard in Syndey, NSW, Australia . It is about 8cm long and 2cm wide. I would like to know what it is? Thanks for your help.
Kind regards,
Bianca

Hi Bianca,
This is a Cicada, but we don’t know Australian species. Males make loud harsh sounds that sound almost industrial. They create quite a ruckus from trees.

(11/28/2005) Cicada from Australia
Dear What’s That Bug?:
Let me first say that I love your site. I couldn’t possibly say enough good things about it. Keep up the great work. I thought I may be able to provide you with an ID for the Cicada from Australia. I wasn’t sure whether you’d want to post the info or not, but figured you’d be interested nonetheless. I believe the pictured cicada is Cyclochila australasiae (the Green Grocer). I can’t be 100% sure, as the little fella in the picture is on his back, and I am by no means an expert on Australian cicadas. >From what I understand, it is a common Australian species and much louder than the ones we have in the US. I hope the information can be useful to you.
Sincerely,
Chad Lensbower
Chambersburg, PA

Letter 5 – Grass Fairie Cicada from Australia, not Bunyip Cicada

 

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

Letter 6 – Golden Orb Weaver eats Cicada in Australia

 

Food Chain Pic
Hi Guys,
It has been a bumper year down under for Golden Orb Weavers, I have never seen so many in any year before. This lady is enjoying a tasty cicada. In this pic you can clearly see the golden colour of the web that gives them the name. Taken February 10 2008, Boondal Wetlands, Queensland.
Keep up the great work.
Trevor Jinks
Australia

Hi Trevor,
We can always count on you for a great photo. We believe your Golden Orb Weaver is Nephila edulis, though there are several other species in the genus found in Australia. This is a great addition to our Food Chain pages.

Letter 7 – Golden Web Spider eats Cicada in Singapore

 

nephilla spider eating cicada
Tue, Feb 3, 2009 at 5:56 PM
I took this picture of a nephilla spider eating a cicada at a nature reserve.The spider was at least 10 cm from mouth to the tip of its abdomen.
curious
singapore

Golden Web Spider
Golden Web Spider

Dear Curious,
Normally we would be reluctant to try to identify which species of Golden Silk Spider you have photographed, but we suspect it is Nephila pilipes, The Golden Web Spider, which is a common species in Singapore. There is a website of Common Singapore Spiders based on a guide book by Joseph K H Koh that depicts this spider. Golden Silk Spiders in the genus Nephila have extremely strong silk in their webs and are known to catch small birds.  Your photo clearly shows the golden color of the silk.

Letter 8 – Green Grocer Cicada is First Australian Cicada of the season!!!

 

Ed. Note: December 1, 2010
Since summer is approaching in the Southern Hemisphere, we are beginning to get more identification requests from Australia.  There are many different species of Cicadas in Australia and they are given very unusual common names.  We hope that we receive numerous photographs of Australian Cicadas this year and hopefully, making this Green Grocer that was sent in about a week ago the Bug of the Moth will encourage other submissions of Cicadas.

Large Green Flying Insect
Location: Ascot Vale, Melbourne
November 22, 2010 11:49 pm
Hello
Can you please help me identify this fly found in my sister’s garden? It was bigger than my thumb and quite fat.
Signature: LC

Green Grocer Cicada

Dear LC,
You have netted a Green Grocer Cicada,
Cyclochila australasiae, one of many species of Cicada found in Australia that have fascinating and colorful common names.  According to Oz Animals:  “The Green Grocer Cicada is a common cicada along eastern Australia. It has a loud high pitched call and is one of the loudest insects in the world. The most common form is green, and another fairly common form is the yellow form (the Yellow Monday). Less common colour variations are dark tan (Chocolate Soldier) and turquoise blue (Blue Moon). Most forms have red eyes, although the Blue Form has purple blue eyes. The Masked Devil is an orange brown form with a black mask across the eyes that is more common at higher altitudes.”  Now that winter is fast approaching in North America, our northern hemisphere identification requests are tapering off, but each year at this time, we get numerous requests from Australia and other southern hemisphere locations.  Your letter is the first Cicada image from Australia this season.

Letter 9 – Great Southern Brood: Emergent Periodical Cicada

 

big yellow bug with big black eyes, wait, red eyes
Location: Williamsburg, Va, USA
May 3, 2011 2:48 pm
Hello! Last night I was sitting on my patio with my dog. I was waiting for her to do her business when I heard her sniffing at something. Usually, she would go on about her business but she just kept sniffing at something. So I went to take a look and saw this big yellow bug, a little over two inches. It has a larg abdomen and six legs. On top of it’s head, at first, I thought to be two large black eyes. I looked from another angle and saw that it infact had two red eyes and that the black dots were perhaps a sort of defense pattern. What I found most strange were the slightly transparent, yellow, soft leaf/petal like elements, one on each side of the head that almost looks like a collar. I took a hand shovel to push it a little so test its reaction and it did little to nothing. I tried aggravating it a little so it would walk onto the shovel so I could throw it over the fence. Since I do not know what that insect is capable of, perhaps poisonous if injest ed, I did not want my dog to eat it. Thanks for answering!
P.S. I apologize for the blurryness. I was using my cell phone camera with night vision, it’s very hard to keep absolutely still. I didn’t want to miss the chance of capturing an image.
Signature: Curious Bugger

Periodical Cicada: Brood XIX

Dear curious Bugger,
Despite the extreme blurriness of your photograph, we are quite confident that this is a newly emergent Periodical Cicada thanks to your vivid verbal description.  It is also a member of Brood XIX, the Great Southern Brood, which appear every 13 years and is profiled on this website.  After spending 13 years underground as nymphs, when the soil temperature reaches 64ºF, the mature nymphs rise to the surface en mass and metamorphose into adults, usually at night.  Because their emergence is based on soil temperature, they generally appear in the southernmost reaches of the range first, and as warmer weather reaches the higher latitudes, so do the appearances.  Here is a map of 2011 emergence records.  If you are lucky, you will be treated to one of the most unique and unusual of insect sightings, the mass emergence of thousands of 13 Year Cicadas whose ear-splitting mating calls will fill the trees for about 6 weeks.  During that time, they will provide a bounteous meal for birds, reptiles and mammals that will gorge themselves on the fatty morsels.  They are also considered a delicacy for entomophages of the human sort.  Here is a photo from BugGuide of a newly emergent, teneral member of the Great Southern Brood.  Its wings should have expanded and hardened and its body should have darkened several hours after its emergence.

Dear Daniel,
Thank you so much for your informative response.  So those are the guys that won’t be quiet, ha ha.  Thanks again for the links.

Letter 10 – Great Southern Brood in Northern Illinois

 

13 year locust Location: Southern Illinois June 2, 2011 7:34 pm I just matched my locust picture on your site. I had seen these once before years ago near Boston Harbor. I thought they were the 7 year locust as I had never seen them before. This year while visiting The Garden of the gods State Park in Southern Illinois; we heard a strange noise when we got out of the car. We had been there several times before and never heard this sound in the woods. Then I saw the red eeyed locust and thought ”Ah-Ha!!” I was curious as to what kind it really was so I checked your site to find locusts. Sure enough… some one else further south had seen them too. Thanks for helping me know what kind it is. Signature: Janet Fox

13 Year Cicada

Hi Janet, Thanks so much for sending your excellent photo of a 13 Year Cicada from the Great Southern Brood, AKA Brood XIX.  Your letter sounded like you did not see great numbers, which is alarming.  Perhaps habitat destruction and human intervention have reduced their numbers.  As long as people consider the appearance of the mating swarms of Periodical Cicadas to be a plague, then the demise of the species is imminent.  Though they are commonly called “locusts”, the Periodical Cicadas are true Cicadas.

Ed. Note: Though Brood XIX seems to be emerging throughout its range, we have not received reports of great numbers of Cicadas.  Is habitat destruction combined with Unnecessary Carnage beginning to contribute to a decline in the number of individuals?

Letter 11 – Bold Jumper eats Cicada

 

Jumping spider feeding on a cicada
Location: cheney kansas
June 29, 2011 11:52 pm
Was mowing one day and saw a cicada drying it’s wings on a Walnut tree.
I returned a couple hours later to check up on the cicada and found a jumping spider feeding on the cicada.
Signature: Chris Harris

Bold Jumper eats Cicada

Hi Chris,
We are very impressed with both your photograph and what it documents.  We believe the spider is most likely a Bold Jumper,
Phidippus audax, and based on the information on BugGuide, it is a highly variable species, though BugGuide does indicate:  “The majority of audax specimens are black with three white spots.”  There are also some excellent images and information on this Cirrus Image website.  Alas, your photos do not provide a clear dorsal view of the abdomen, so only one white spot is visible.  We have so much room to speculate upon how this Bold Jumper managed to capture a Cicada many times its size.  We wish you hadn’t cropped the photo.  It appears that this might be a newly metamorphosed Cicada.  The Cicada is lighter in color when it first metamorphoses.  Also, insects are much more vulnerable immediately following molting and the metamorphosis process.  The exoskeleton will not have properly hardened immediately after metamorphosis and the Cicada is incapable of flying until after its wings and exoskeleton harden.  That would be the window of opportunity for a proficient hunter like the Bold Jumper to tackle a significantly larger prey than it would normally be able to take.  Thanks for sending us your photos.

Bold Jumper

Letter 12 – Golden Orbweaver eats Cicada

 

Location:  Roanoke Virginia
August 29, 2011
Daniel,
My Cicada pic made it onto the local CBS news! Thanks for publishing it as that is how the reporter found it!
I now have some pics of a beautiful Garden spider. So huge and intimidating. He has a cicada all wrapped up for later. 🙂
And could “crop 1 Garden Spider 011” be her mate? He was WAY smaller but I know males often are. He was in the same web.
Best wishes!
Paul Mays
aka neanderpaul

Golden Orbweaver eats Cicada

Hi Paul,
Thanks for the update and the great news about your previous photo.  We will be creating a new posting for your Golden Orbweaver images.

Golden Orbweaver

While both of your spiders are Orbweavers, the large female Golden Orbweaver, Argiope aurantia, is a different species than the smaller spider which we believe is an Orchard Spider,Leucauge venusta.

Orchard Spider

Letter 13 – Florida Predatory Stink Bug nymphs eating Periodical Cicadas in Tennessee

 

Subject: Cicada killers
Location: Tennessee
June 4, 2015 3:47 pm
I was outside and saw these weird bugs eating a cicada. When I looked closee at the Bush they were everywhere. Some cicadas only had a few, but some were completely swarmed. You also can’t really tell in the pic but they have a spider man coloration in the sun.
Signature: -Brad

Florida Predatory Stink Bugs eat Cicada
Florida Predatory Stink Bugs eat Cicada

Dear Brad,
This year marked the emergence of the The Lower Mississippi Valley Brood, Brood XXIII of the Periodical Cicadas,
Magicicada neotredecim, a species that appears every 13 years.  When the Cicadas are plentiful, they provide food for predators, including the Florida Predatory Stink Bug nymphs pictured in your image.  This is an awesome food chain image and it is a wonderful addition to our archive.  Folks can read more about Brood XXIII on Magicada.org where we read:  “2015 will be a remarkable year for periodical cicadas. 13-year Brood XXIII, the Mississipian Brood, and 17-year Brood IV, the Kansan Brood, will both emerge.  The 2015 emergence of periodical cicadas will be extraordinary. 13-year Brood XXIII will emerge in the Mississippi River Valley. This brood contains all four described species of 13-year periodical cicadas- Magicicada neotredecim, Magicicada tredecim, M. tredecassini, and M. tredecula. 17-year Brood IV, the Kansan Brood, will emerge along the western edge of the general periodical cicada range. This brood contains Magicicada septendecim, M. cassini, and M. septendecula. Thus, in 2015, you can see all seven described species of Magicicada.”  Supplied with that information, we don’t know for certain which species of Cicada you observed as so many generations are overlapping this year.  More about the Florida Predatory Stink Bugs can be found on Featured Creatures.

Letter 14 – Solifugid eats Cicada

 

Subject: Solifugid and Cicada
Location: Mayhill, NM, USA
June 20, 2015 10:52 pm
It’s been a little while since I’ve visited your site, mostly being busy with other things; however, revisited it about a week ago because I remember greatly enjoying the different pictures and descriptions. Looking through your site reminded me of this picture I nabbed a little over a year ago; I’d just gotten home from a nighttime trip to town for provisions (it’s about an hour drive away, and at the time they were seeing daytime temperatures upwards of 110F) and was checking on my plants I’ve got scattered around outside the house when I heard a strange noise; it was like a clicking and flapping that I couldn’t quite place. Seeking it out, I found these two, a Solifugid and a cicada, the one struggling to eat the other as the other tried desperately to fly away. By the time I managed to get my camera, the cicada had died and the Solifugid was happily munching away, but knowing how rare it is to see even the end result of a hunt like that, I took a picture anyway. Around here, our cicadas are tiny, rarely ever getting over an inch in length; you can somewhat make out a Ponderosa pine needle in the foreground bottom center, extending to the left of the pair, for reference.
I’m gonna go ahead and send this other picture I took about the same time; it’s another tiny Solifugid, resting on a bed of moss. That’s pretty typical moss, and all the “twigs” are actually more Ponderosa pine needles, so you can tell this guy was tiny. I love finding these guys around here; they’re really neat to watch scurry around.
Hope you enjoy the pictures!
Signature: Grady

Solifugud eats Cicada
Solifugud eats Cicada

Dear Grady,
We were out of the office for several weeks and we are just now combing through to find interesting submissions to post.  We know we will miss many because we have so many unanswered submissions, but we are selecting submissions based on subject lines and your subject line caught our attention.  Thanks for submitting this wonderful Food Chain image of a Solifugid eating a Cicada, but especially because of the detailed verbal account of your observations.

Solifugid
Solifugid

Authors

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  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

4 thoughts on “What Animals Eat Cicadas: A Friendly Guide to Cicada Predators”

    • Thanks Trevor, but the list of Australian Cicadas with awesome names is considerably lengthier, and includes the Double Drummer, Whisky Drinker, Floury Baker and Sandgrinder. I have devoted more that three pages of my book to Australian Cicadas and their colorful names.
      Daniel

      Reply
  1. Love your web site. It was referred to me by a co-worker after I found a new spider in a rose bush. I Googled spiders & searched fruitlessly for hours. Today I spent just a few minutes on your site & found my spider. It’s a Bold Jumper….big, black, stocky with the signature bright green fangs. Egg sac looks like a cotton ball. We put her back in the garden. She went into the egg sac & sealed herself into the bag with her eggs. Very cool. Can hardly wait to see the babies. Are they at all dangerous to humans? Just wanted to know how much of a distance I should keep between us. She didn’t seem at all agressive…almost docile. Please advise. Thank you.

    Reply
    • We are positively charmed with your polite comment. Jumping Spiders are not considered poisonous, but like most Spiders, they are probably capable of biting a human. We have never read any accounts of the venom being dangerous to humans. We are curious how you embarked upon your search once arriving on our site. Did you use our search engine typing in key words? Did you click Spiders and just browse through our reverse chronological order postings? Or, did you select the Jumping Spider subcategory?

      Reply

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