Where Are Cicadas Found? Discovering Their Global Habitats

Cicadas are fascinating insects that capture the attention of many due to their unique life cycles and eerie songs. You may have heard their unmistakable serenades and wondered where these extraordinary creatures can be found. In general, cicadas can be found in various parts of the world, particularly in the southern and eastern United States1.

These large, thick-bodied insects are generally found in warmer climates where they can flourish in trees and other vegetation. Many cicada species, including the well-known periodical cicadas, have distinctive 17- or 13-year life cycles2. Interestingly, the 17-year species can be found together from Connecticut to Kansas, while the 13-year species inhabit locations like Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas3.

Now that you have an idea of where cicadas can be found, it’s important to know that these captivating insects are not harmful to humans, pets, or most plants. In fact, they play a vital role in the ecosystems they inhabit. So, the next time you hear their captivating chorus during summer evenings, you’ll have a better understanding of where these elusive, yet remarkable insects reside.

Understanding Cicadas

Cicadas are fascinating insects with unique attributes and life cycles. They belong to the suborder Auchenorrhyncha and can be found in many regions worldwide, although they are primarily found in the southern and eastern parts of the United States 1. These insects are known for their distinctive wings and various environmental adaptations.

Some of the key features of cicadas include:

  • Large, thick bodies measuring about 1 to 2 inches long.
  • Prominent, transparent wings that often stick out.
  • Existence in both annual and periodical species.

Annual cicadas, also known as “dog-day cicadas,” are usually larger in size and have a lifespan of around one year 2. On the other hand, periodical cicadas, which are either 13-year or 17-year cicadas, emerge en masse after spending most of their lives underground as nymphs that feed on tree root sap 3. Their synchronized emergence is a unique biological phenomenon that fascinates many.

Cicadas go through several life stages that involve molting their skin. After hatching, young cicadas called nymphs grow through multiple instars, shedding their exoskeletons as they develop into adults. Adult cicadas mate, lay eggs, and then die.

Cicadas’ habitat often dictates their life cycles. They require certain environmental conditions to thrive. As a result, you’ll typically find cicadas in places where trees and vegetation provide ample resources and protection.

To summarize, it’s important to understand these key aspects of cicadas:

  • They are found worldwide, but primarily in the United States.
  • They have strikingly beautiful wings and come in different species.
  • Annual and periodical cicadas have unique life cycles.
  • Their habitats directly impact their life stages and behaviors.

By learning more about cicadas, you can appreciate their role in the ecosystem and better understand their unique characteristics.

Life Cycle of Cicadas

Cicadas begin their life as eggs laid by a female on tree branches. After hatching, the tiny nymphs fall to the ground and burrow into the soil.

While underground, they feed on plant roots and molt through various instar stages. They spend the majority of their lives underground, with some species taking as long as 13 to 17 years to emerge as adults.

When it’s time to come above ground, the nymphs create a mud tunnel and climb onto nearby vegetation. Once there, they undergo one final molt to become adult cicadas, leaving behind their exoskeletons on tree trunks.

Adult cicadas have only one purpose: mating. They use loud mating calls to attract a mate, with males producing the sound through a specialized body part called a tymbal.

After mating, the female cicadas lay their eggs and the cycle begins anew. Sometimes, stragglers emerge early or late, but the majority of cicadas follow a predictable pattern.

Throughout the entire life cycle, cicadas are an important part of the ecosystem, providing food for predators and aerating the soil during their underground phase. So next time you hear their unmistakable song, remember the fascinating journey they’ve taken to serenade you.

Periodical and Annual Cicadas

You might be wondering about the different types of cicadas and where they can be found. Let’s explore periodical and annual cicadas, two major groups that differ in their life cycles and appearances.

Periodical cicadas emerge every 13 or 17 years, while annual cicadas make an appearance every year1. These fascinating insects can be found in the Eastern United States2.

To help you better understand the differences between these two types of cicadas, here’s a comparison table:

Periodical Cicadas Annual Cicadas
Life Cycle 13-year or 17-year3 2-3 years4
Size 3/4 to 1 1/4 inch5 About 1 3/4 inches6
Color Black with red eyes7 Dark green to black8
Emergence 13 or 17 years9 Every year10

In terms of appearance, periodical cicadas have red eyes, red legs, and red wing veins, while annual cicadas are generally larger and display a dark green to black coloration with green wing veins11.

Annual cicadas are commonly known as “dog-day cicadas” and can be found throughout the U.S. in the summer12. Indiana, for example, is home to the Southern Grass Cicada and Green Winged Cicada13. On the other hand, periodical cicadas belonging to the genus Magicicada emerge in synchronized years14.

Using this information, you can now better distinguish between periodical and annual cicadas and understand their unique characteristics and distribution.

Identifying Cicadas

Cicadas are fascinating insects known for their loud and unique sounds. They come in various colors and sizes. Let’s explore some key characteristics that can help you quickly identify them:

  • Males and females: Both sexes look quite similar in appearance. However, male cicadas are the ones making the loud sounds you may associate with cicadas. They have a special organ called a tymbal that helps produce these noises to attract females for mating.

  • Colors: Cicadas often display an array of colors, including tan, green, brown, black, and white. The colors may vary even within the same species, but most commonly, you’ll find them in shades of brown and green.

  • Eyes and antennae: Many cicadas have red or black eyes, which can be quite striking against their body color. Their short antennae help them gather sensory information from their surroundings.

  • Wings: Cicadas are known for their translucent wings, which can be a distinguishing feature. Here’s a comparison of cicada wings:

Feature Cicada wings
Transparency Yes
Veins Visible
Shape Broad
Position when at rest Roof-like

By observing these characteristics, you can easily identify cicadas when you encounter them. Remember, these interesting creatures play an important role in our ecosystem, and their characteristic sounds are an essential part of many natural environments. So, next time you hear their chorus, take a moment to appreciate these fascinating insects.

Geographical Distribution of Cicadas

Cicadas are found in various parts of the world, spanning multiple continents. There are over 3,000 species globally, with around 190 species in North America. Remarkably, cicadas are absent only in Antarctica.

In the United States, cicadas inhabit mostly the southern and eastern regions, including states like Ohio, New York, Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, New Jersey, West Virginia, and Delaware. To easily visualize their distribution, an interactive map is available from the US Forest Service.

Cicadas are predominantly found in:

  • Tropical areas
  • Temperate regions

Tropical habitats host a diverse range of cicada species, while temperate regions, such as some parts of the United States, witness the emergence of periodical cicadas in synchronized broods.

Outside the United States, cicadas are widely distributed across continents like:

  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Europe

Cicadas play a significant role in various cultures, symbolizing rebirth, health, wealth, and happiness in some Asian societies. Their unique life cycle, geographical distribution, and environmental diversity make them fascinating insects worth understanding.

Cicada Broods

Periodical cicadas are organized into groups known as broods, which emerge on a common schedule. These broods can be identified by Roman numerals and differ based on their emergence years and locations. Here are some examples:

  • Brood X is one of the largest broods, last emerging in 2021.
  • Brood XIII is another prominent brood, expected to emerge in 2024, along with Brood XIX. The map shows their progress.

You’ll find periodical cicadas in different regions of the United States, with each brood specific to certain areas. For example:

  • Brood V is found in parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland.
  • Brood VI has been observed in North Carolina, Georgia, and South Carolina.

To determine which broods are active in the current year, consult resources like the US Forest Service’s interactive map. Just remember that cicadas aren’t harmful to humans, pets, gardens, or crops, but you might notice their presence due to the loud courting sounds made by adult males.

By familiarizing yourself with different cicada broods, you’ll know what to expect and when to expect them in your region. Keep an eye out for updates and resources to stay informed about these fascinating insects.

Specific Cicada Species

Cicadas are fascinating insects with over 3,000 different species found around the world, except Antarctica1. In this section, we’ll discuss some specific species, including the Magicicada, Tibicen, and Dog-day Cicada.

Magicicada:
The Magicicada is unique for its periodical life cycles of 13 and 17 years2. These cicadas are mostly found in North America and have black bodies with striking red eyes and orange wing veins3. They usually emerge in May and June.

Tibicen:
Tibicen, also known as the Annual or Dog-day Cicadas, are more commonly found and have shorter life cycles4. With around 190 species occurring in North America1, you’ll likely encounter them during the hot summer days, hence the name Dog-day Cicada.

Dog-day Cicada (Neotibicen canicularis):
A well-known species of the Tibicen group, the Dog-day Cicada, is often seen in the United States4. It can be found on trees and shrubs, making a loud buzzing sound that signals the arrival of those hot summer days.

To summarize, here’s a comparison table of the cicadas mentioned:

Cicada Species Life Cycle Appearance Location
Magicicada 13 or 17 years Black body, red eyes, orange wing veins North America
Tibicen (Annual) Shorter life cycle Varies by species North America
Dog-day Cicada (Neotibicen canicularis) Shorter life cycle Specific to the Tibicen group United States

Now that you know more about these specific cicada species, you’ll better understand and appreciate the fascinating world of these unique insects during your outdoor adventures.

Cicadas and the Environment

Cicadas are unique insects found primarily in the southern and eastern parts of the United States. They play an essential role in the environment as they contribute to the health of their habitats. In this section, we’ll explore the relationships between cicadas, trees, forests, soil, and habitats.

Cicadas spend most of their lives underground, feeding on the sap of tree roots as nymphs. This process not only benefits the cicadas, but also helps aerate the soil, allowing water and nutrients to reach the trees’ roots more effectively.

When adult cicadas emerge, they lay their eggs on the branches of mature trees. Despite the overwhelming numbers of cicadas during their emergence, they do very little damage to the environment. Trees affected by the influx of cicadas usually appear to survive the event without any notable harm.

The presence of cicadas can have other positive impacts on their habitats. These insects serve as a food source for various predators, such as birds and small mammals. By providing an abundant and easily obtainable meal, they play a vital role in supporting the local ecosystem.

To sum it up, cicadas and the environment have a mutually beneficial relationship. They play crucial roles in maintaining soil health, supporting trees and forests, and providing sustenance for other species in their habitats. Their unique life cycle greatly contributes to the delicate balance of the ecosystems in which they reside.

Cicadas: Predators and Threats

Cicadas have several predators that pose a threat to their existence. One of the most common predators of cicadas is birds, which feed on both adult and immature cicadas. Some examples of birds that prey on cicadas include:

  • Robins
  • Mockingbirds
  • Blue jays

Additionally, red ants are known to attack and consume cicada nymphs. The ants can cause damage to the nymphs when they emerge from the ground to molt into their adult form.

There are other animals and insects that also hunt cicadas, such as:

  • Bats
  • Raccoons
  • Spiders
  • Praying mantises

As you can see, cicadas face numerous threats from various predators. However, their periodic emergence in large numbers helps to ensure the survival of their species, making it difficult for predators to wipe them out completely. To better understand the predators and threats for cicadas, here’s a simple comparison table:

Predator Preys on Threat level
Birds Adult and immature cicadas High
Red ants Cicada nymphs Medium
Bats Adult cicadas Low
Raccoons Adult cicadas Low
Spiders Adult cicadas Low
Praying mantis Adult cicadas Low

Remember that cicadas are not harmful to humans, pets, household gardens, or crops. They are simply part of our ecosystem and play a role in controlling other insect populations. Just be aware of the predators and threats that these fascinating insects encounter in their life cycle.

Sounds of Cicadas

Cicadas produce distinctive sounds mainly for mating purposes, with each species having its unique call. You’ll notice that these insects create their noise using a specialized organ called tymbals, found on the first abdominal segment of males.

Male cicadas generate these sounds by rapidly vibrating their tymbals, amplifying the volume through the hollow abdomen, which acts as a resonating chamber. Due to their noise-generating ability, large swarms of cicadas can create deafening sounds, often compared to lawnmowers or power tools.

It’s important to note that cicadas can be found in various locations, including Florida and other parts of North America. In some cases, noise levels generated by cicadas may range from 90-100 decibels (dB), making their calls audible from far distances.

In case you were wondering about their impact on human health, generally, it’s the decibel level and exposure time that determine the potential risk of hearing damage. However, while the calls of cicadas can be quite loud, it is rare to experience prolonged exposure at dangerously high levels.

Here’s a brief comparison of cicada sounds with other familiar noises:

Sound Source Decibel Level
Cicadas 90-100 dB
Lawnmower 90 dB
Power Tools 100 dB

Keep in mind when you hear cicadas singing that the primary goal is attracting a mate, and their fascinating behavior echoes the vibrant nature of these remarkable insects.

Cicada Research

In 2021, scientists from various institutions, including the University of Connecticut, conducted research on periodical cicadas. These cicadas are famous for their fascinating life cycles, which last either 13 or 17 years, depending on the species.

Participating researchers collected valuable data on cicada emergence locations and densities. This information helps increase our understanding of cicada distribution patterns and their role in ecosystems.

Various teams have been tracking historical records and recent observations of cyclical cicada appearances. You can discover some fascinating facts about cicadas:

  • They are not harmful to humans, pets, or crops.
  • Adult cicadas can grow up to 1.5 inches long with a wingspan twice that size.
  • They have black bodies, large red-brown eyes, and membranous wings with orange veins.

Although the 2021 emergence has passed, there’s still ongoing research and preparation for future cicada events. Scientists are particularly interested in the anticipated Brood X emergence in 2038. By documenting and analyzing past and present occurrences, researchers can better predict and prepare for the impact of future cicada appearances.

Efforts such as mapping updates and continued research contribute to our understanding of these intriguing insects, allowing us to better appreciate and coexist with them. So, keep an eye out for upcoming cicada studies and discoveries to learn more about these amazing creatures.

Oviposition and Cicadas

Cicadas, especially periodical ones, are known for their fascinating life cycles, as they spend most of their lives underground before emerging as adults to mate. During the mating process, female cicadas lay their eggs on host plants using their specialized egg-laying organ called an ovipositor.

When choosing a host plant, cicadas are influenced by factors such as light and the architecture of a plant’s branches. You might notice that some trees or shrubs, especially those with longer and broader branches, are highly favored by cicadas. Typically, these insects prefer deciduous trees like oak, hickory, and pear for egg-laying.

The following features play a crucial role in determining a suitable host plant for cicada oviposition:

  • Plant type (deciduous trees or shrubs)
  • Branch architecture
  • Light availability

Among the types of cicadas, periodical cicadas in the Eastern United States have 13- or 17-year life cycles. When they emerge, each group is known as a “brood” or “year-class.” The broods are designated by Roman numerals, with 12 broods of 17-year cicadas and three broods of 13-year cicadas currently recognized (source).

Just remember that when you see female cicadas laying their eggs on trees and shrubs, they are using their ovipositor and carefully selecting their host plants based on various factors. This is an integral part of the fascinating life cycle of cicadas.

Footnotes

  1. Cicadas | Home & Garden Information Center 2 3 4 5

  2. Species | Cicadas 2 3 4

  3. Cicadas in the Landscape | NC State Extension Publications 2 3 4

  4. DNR: Entomology: Periodical Cicada 2 3

  5. Annual and Periodical Cicada | NC State Extension Publications

  6. Annual and Periodical Cicada | NC State Extension Publications

  7. Annual and Periodical Cicada | NC State Extension Publications

  8. Annual and Periodical Cicada | NC State Extension Publications

  9. Cicadas – Broods

  10. Cicadas

  11. Annual and Periodical Cicada | NC State Extension Publications

  12. Cicadas

  13. DNR: Entomology: Periodical Cicada

  14. Cicadas – Broods

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 – Cicada from Mexico

 

Subject: Large flying bug in Puerto Vallarta
Location: Puerto Vallarta Mexico
June 20, 2017 8:25 am
Hi Bugman,
We are vacationing in Puerto Vallarta and woke up to a few large flying bugs on our balcony. My kids are very curious about what kind of bug this is. I have been unable to identify it on my own.
Can you help?
The Callahan’s
Signature: Callahan kids

Cicada

Dear Callahan kids,
This is a Cicada, but we are not certain of the species.  According to Word Reference, the Spanish word for Cicada is Cigarra or Chicharra.  Jewelry and other decorative items from Mexico and Central America featuring the Cicada as a motif are not uncommon.  Cicadas are some of the loudest insects in the world.

Thank you for the quick reply. That explains the loud noises we are hearing as well.

Letter 2 – Cicada from Malaysia: Tacua speciosa

 

Black moth with yellow stripe on ‘neck’
March 22, 2010
Hi, my dad found this moth on a tree in our garden in Malaysia (tropics). Rainy season had just started, humid, temperature around 29C. Wing span was about 12 centimeters. Hope you can help identify this moth. Really curious! Thanks.
June, Malaysia.
Penang, Malaysia

Cicada: Tacua speciosa

Hi June,
This is not a moth, but rather a Cicada, and it is gorgeous.  We did a web search for black cicada in Malaysia, and we found a match on the ExoInsects website of Malaysian insects for sale where it was identified as Tacua speciosa Rare.  We then found a photo of a living specimen on Ch’ien C. Lee’s Nature Photography of Southeast Asia website.

Letter 3 – Cicada from Turkey

 

Subject: A really big bug!
Location: Alanya, Turkey
August 2, 2013 11:42 am
Hey, bugman!
We’re on a vacation in Turkey, Alanya and these enormous bugs (about 5-7cm, plus the wings) are everywhere! We hear them make these sound, which sounds like crickets. And they are really loud. They are on trees and bushes and seems like they use the bottom of their body (maybe legs, too) to make the sound.
I’m really curious to know what are these enourmously big bugs that make such noise all day long. Hope you can help me.
All the best,
Kertu
Signature: Kertu

Cicada from Turkey
Cicada from Turkey

Dear Kertu,
This is a Cicada, and one species of Australian Cicada is considered to be the loudest insect in the world.  Cicadas are found in many parts of the world and we are not certain which species you have submitted.  We recently began reading Samuel Butler’s translation of Homer’s Iliad, and we are amused by this quote from Book 3, verse 152:  “These were too old to fight, but they were fluent orators, and sat on the tower like cicadas that chirrup delicately from the boughs of some high tree in a wood.”
  Here is another translation of this passage online.  We don’t personally consider the song of the Cicada to be delicate.  It sounds more like a buzz saw, but it is such an iconic summer sound.  Considering your location in Turkey, this might be the very Cicada that Homer wrote about.

Letter 4 – Cicada Head showing Ocelli

 

cicada has a headlight?
November 6, 2009
In my closeup photo of a cicada’s (“a”) head, I noticed a bright red spot between his eyes, above his ‘nose’, which sure looked like a ruby-colored glass lens! I found the same thing on a second cicada (“b”), so it is not some weird anomaly. Also, it looks like there may be a cluster of the spots across his ‘forehead’, sorta like on a spider, but the other spots are aimed ‘up’, so I didn’t notice them at first. Maybe they’re additional eyes, maybe some other sort of sensors, but for sure, they do look strange!
seekertom
West Palm Beach, Fl

cicada with embedded camerain head???
How can I upload a pic of this guy to you? I have a decent frontal headshot which shows what looks like a red camera lens embedded into his skull. Couldn’t be a secret govt robot spy? could it?

Cicada Head
Cicada Head

Dear seekertom,
We loved your first impression, and we have taken the liberty of posting both of your letters to us.  Cicadas like most insects have three primitive eyes or ocelli as well as the two large compound eyes.  The ocelli are sensitive to light and in conjunction with the compound eyes, they provide the insect with two distinct types of vision.

Letter 5 – Cicada from Costa Rica

 

I know this is just a common annoying cicada, but I’m sending you the photo because I think this one is pretty. It has the iredescent green on it’s wings and metalic gold body. It would make a nice brooch for an entomologist to wear.
Jordan
Costa Rica

Hi Jordan,
Thanks for sending us your photo of a Costa Rican Cicada.

Letter 6 – Cicada from New Zealand

 

NZ Cicada
Hello.
I’ve been viewing several cicada sites and read about periodical and annual cicadas. I would like more information about the annual cicadas. Can you direct me to a website? At the moment, we are surrounded by the glorious singing of oodles of cicadas. Are you able to provide any detail about the one in the attached photo? This one allowed me to get really up close and personal without taking flight. Regards,
Margaret
Nelson, NZ.

Hi Margaret,
We love Lindsay Popple’s awesome Cicada website, but it is dedicated to Australian species. We will check with Lindsay and see if he knows what species this is. Lindsay quickly wrote back: “Hi Daniel, The cicada species from New Zealand is Amphipsalta zelandica. See http://hydrodictyon.eeb.uconn.edu/projects/cicada/sp_pages/NZ_species/A_zealandica.html Cheers, Lindsay.”

Letter 7 – Cicada from Brazil

 

Very beautiful cicada
Location: Campinas, São Paulo/Brazil
November 8, 2010 2:58 pm
Hey Bugman,
I’m sending you another picture of a Brazilian cicada. This one is very different from the ones i’m used to see (they’re all kinda colorless round here, but this one is very colorful).
Can you PLEASE tell me what species is this (or at least help me find the species)?
This is my third letter. I know you’re busy, but please answer this one. I’m waiting.
Thank you Bugman
PS: I have the video of the cicada singing, if you want.
Signature: Franco (Cicada Lover)

Cicada

Dear Franco,
Please forgive us for not responding to your earlier emails.  It really is impossible to respond to all of our mail and when we need to research a response, that cuts back on the quantity of letters we can answer and post.  With that said, we are unable to identify your Cicada species.  There are so many similar looking Cicadas and we haven’t the necessary skills to identify them.  Additionally, there is not a good database that we are aware of to assist in identifying Brazilian species.  We will post your letter and photos and hopefully one of our readers will be able to assist in the identification.  If you add a comment to the posting, you will automatically get notified if a comment arrives in the future.

Cicada

Letter 8 – Cicada from Brazil

 

Location:  Brazil
January 26, 2011
Thanks for posting my update, but i forgot to tell that the green cicada i attached to the e-mail (the upper pic) is not a Taphura sp, but a Carineta fasciculata. Taphura sp is just the picture below (with the scale).
Thanks again and sorry for that mistake

Cicada

Thanks for the correction Franco.

Hi Bugman! I swear this is the last e-mail i’ll send to you (i know you can’t stand me anymore… lol)!! I just passed to tell you that i finally translated my blog to english, so you and all the people who like cicadas willl be able to read it.
I discovered a new species this month, as soon as i can i’ll post more photos of it on the blog.
Please check it out! The address is still the same
(cigarrasbrasileiras.blogspot.com)
Thank you very much for your patience!!
Best wishes.
Franco

It looks great Franco, but you should also translate the title and opening paragraph.

Letter 9 – Cicada from Brazil

 

More brazilian cicadas
Location: Campinas-SP, Brazil
February 22, 2011 1:04 pm
Hi Daniel! It’s me again (Franco), and i’m here to share with you some pictures of a Dorisiana viridis, a very common cicada in the late summer in Brazil. Here’s some features: their song is a succession of short calls (like kee-kee-kee-kee), they sing in synchrony (when there’s a lot of males together), and they have two-colored eyes!! Hope you enjoy it! Best wishes
Signature: Franco

Cicada

Hi Franco,
We must say that we are amazed that so many of your Brazilian Cicadas are so tiny.  Australian Cicadas are gigantic by comparison.

Cicada

Letter 10 – Cicada from Brazil

 

Amazing green cicada
Location: Campinas, São Paulo/Brazil
March 7, 2011 10:56 am
Hi Daniel! Now i’m back to ask you about this species of cicada i found in my city (i really don’t know the species, but it seems to belong to the genus Carineta). Its size is about 3/4 inches, and it’s fully green! Sorry posting a copyrighted picture below, but it’s the only one i found with a better angle to show you the green cicada (i copied from Mongabay.com, where it was written: ”You may print this image for personal use. Provided the mongabay.com logo is not removed, you may post this picture on your web site — a link back is appreciated — and use it for school projects and powerpoints. If you are interested in using this photograph in a publication, please contact me. Please reference the URL of this photo in your email. High resolution versions may be available and it may be possible to make this image available on a t-shirt or other products.”).
Here’s the URL for the picture:
http://travel.mongabay.com/malaysia/images/borneo_5160.html
Would you identify it for me?
Thanks a lot!!!
Signature: Franco (Cicada Lover)

Cicada

Hi Franco,
Since your Cicada is from Brazil, and the image from Monga Bay is from Borneo, other than the green coloration, we are not convinced they necessarily have any close relation.  We will post the link to Monga Bay, but not the photo so our readership can easily compare images.  We hope we can eventually provide you with a species identification.

Letter 11 – Cicada from Nicaragua in genus Zammara

 

Subject: Beetle
Location: Nicaragua
April 23, 2013 4:50 pm
Hello there,
I’m very curious what kind of beetle this is!
I can’t find it anywhere and looked everywhere!
Hope you guys can help me.
Greetings,
Signature: Chantal Bosma

Cicada
Cicada

Dear Chantal,
This is a Cicada, not a beetle, and it is gorgeous.

Letter 12 – Cicada from Philippines

 

Subject: Green bug I’ve never seen before
Location: El Nido, Palawan, hilippines
May 3, 2013 7:08 am
Hi I was going to take a picture of the sunset when this bug went buzzing and scared the hell out of me. It’s an inch long, I think (without the wings) and makes a very loud buzzing! Found it in the bushes near the road. This is the only picture I can provide since I got really scared! Thanks!
Signature: KM

Cicada
Cicada

Dear KM,
This is a Cicada and they are generally regarded as being the loudest insects on earth.  We hope to be able to give you a species or genus identification eventually.

Letter 13 – Cicada from Canada

 

Subject: What type. Of bug is this
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
August 25, 2013 11:41 am
I don’t recall ever seeing this before. It’s about 1.5 in (2” including wings
Signature: Donna

Annual Cicada
Annual Cicada

Hi Donna,
Annual Cicadas in the genus
Tibicen like your individual are often mistaken for large flies.  Annual Cicadas are sometimes called Dog Day Harvestflies.  They make a loud sound like a buzz saw that can be heard in the trees in mid to late summer.

Letter 14 – Cicada from Canada

 

Subject: Giant bug Canada
Location: Canada
August 4, 2015 7:12 pm
I saw this giant bug on my run today. I thought it was a water bug but it almost looks like it has a stinger, what is it?
Signature: Cindy

Cicada
Cicada

Dear Cindy,
This is a Cicada, and you may be familiar with the loud buzzing sounds Cicadas produce, often from the tops of trees in the late summer.

Letter 15 – Cicada from Grand Cayman Island

 

Subject: Bug from Cayman Islands
Location: Grand Cayman Island
November 27, 2016 1:41 pm
Hi there, I wondered if you might be able to identify this bug for me please? It flew onto the branch in the picture like a huge flying truck! It was slow and laboured and was about 1 ½ inches long. It was spotted in the Queen Elizabeth ll nature park on Grand Cayman Island on a recent trip. It was early November and the weather was clear and sunny.
I would love to be able to identify it but don’t know where to start! Google has thrown up nothing! I took the picture myself by the way when I was looking for birds.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Signature: Linda Martin

Cicada
Cicada

Dear Linda,
This is a Cicada, and based on the image posted to CaymANNature, we believe it may be the endemic species
Diceroprocta cleavesi.

Thank you so much Daniel.  We don’t see cicadas here in the UK!
Kind regards
Linda

Letter 16 – Cicada from France

 

Subject:  Giant fly thing, please identify!
Geographic location of the bug:  Montpellier, France
Date: 07/04/2018
Time: 01:16 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  To Whom It May Concern
I found this dead in the city centre of Montpellier, France.  It was 6cm long.  I thought it was a moth at first because of the size but its wings aren’t very moth like.  I am no expert and would love to identify this.
Kind Regards
How you want your letter signed:  Alex

Cicada

Dear Alex,
You are not the first person who has written to us mistaking a Cicada for a giant fly.  One common name for annual Cicadas in North America is Dog Day Harvestfly.

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 – Cicada from Mexico

 

Subject: Large flying bug in Puerto Vallarta
Location: Puerto Vallarta Mexico
June 20, 2017 8:25 am
Hi Bugman,
We are vacationing in Puerto Vallarta and woke up to a few large flying bugs on our balcony. My kids are very curious about what kind of bug this is. I have been unable to identify it on my own.
Can you help?
The Callahan’s
Signature: Callahan kids

Cicada

Dear Callahan kids,
This is a Cicada, but we are not certain of the species.  According to Word Reference, the Spanish word for Cicada is Cigarra or Chicharra.  Jewelry and other decorative items from Mexico and Central America featuring the Cicada as a motif are not uncommon.  Cicadas are some of the loudest insects in the world.

Thank you for the quick reply. That explains the loud noises we are hearing as well.

Letter 2 – Cicada from Malaysia: Tacua speciosa

 

Black moth with yellow stripe on ‘neck’
March 22, 2010
Hi, my dad found this moth on a tree in our garden in Malaysia (tropics). Rainy season had just started, humid, temperature around 29C. Wing span was about 12 centimeters. Hope you can help identify this moth. Really curious! Thanks.
June, Malaysia.
Penang, Malaysia

Cicada: Tacua speciosa

Hi June,
This is not a moth, but rather a Cicada, and it is gorgeous.  We did a web search for black cicada in Malaysia, and we found a match on the ExoInsects website of Malaysian insects for sale where it was identified as Tacua speciosa Rare.  We then found a photo of a living specimen on Ch’ien C. Lee’s Nature Photography of Southeast Asia website.

Letter 3 – Cicada from Turkey

 

Subject: A really big bug!
Location: Alanya, Turkey
August 2, 2013 11:42 am
Hey, bugman!
We’re on a vacation in Turkey, Alanya and these enormous bugs (about 5-7cm, plus the wings) are everywhere! We hear them make these sound, which sounds like crickets. And they are really loud. They are on trees and bushes and seems like they use the bottom of their body (maybe legs, too) to make the sound.
I’m really curious to know what are these enourmously big bugs that make such noise all day long. Hope you can help me.
All the best,
Kertu
Signature: Kertu

Cicada from Turkey
Cicada from Turkey

Dear Kertu,
This is a Cicada, and one species of Australian Cicada is considered to be the loudest insect in the world.  Cicadas are found in many parts of the world and we are not certain which species you have submitted.  We recently began reading Samuel Butler’s translation of Homer’s Iliad, and we are amused by this quote from Book 3, verse 152:  “These were too old to fight, but they were fluent orators, and sat on the tower like cicadas that chirrup delicately from the boughs of some high tree in a wood.”
  Here is another translation of this passage online.  We don’t personally consider the song of the Cicada to be delicate.  It sounds more like a buzz saw, but it is such an iconic summer sound.  Considering your location in Turkey, this might be the very Cicada that Homer wrote about.

Letter 4 – Cicada Head showing Ocelli

 

cicada has a headlight?
November 6, 2009
In my closeup photo of a cicada’s (“a”) head, I noticed a bright red spot between his eyes, above his ‘nose’, which sure looked like a ruby-colored glass lens! I found the same thing on a second cicada (“b”), so it is not some weird anomaly. Also, it looks like there may be a cluster of the spots across his ‘forehead’, sorta like on a spider, but the other spots are aimed ‘up’, so I didn’t notice them at first. Maybe they’re additional eyes, maybe some other sort of sensors, but for sure, they do look strange!
seekertom
West Palm Beach, Fl

cicada with embedded camerain head???
How can I upload a pic of this guy to you? I have a decent frontal headshot which shows what looks like a red camera lens embedded into his skull. Couldn’t be a secret govt robot spy? could it?

Cicada Head
Cicada Head

Dear seekertom,
We loved your first impression, and we have taken the liberty of posting both of your letters to us.  Cicadas like most insects have three primitive eyes or ocelli as well as the two large compound eyes.  The ocelli are sensitive to light and in conjunction with the compound eyes, they provide the insect with two distinct types of vision.

Letter 5 – Cicada from Costa Rica

 

I know this is just a common annoying cicada, but I’m sending you the photo because I think this one is pretty. It has the iredescent green on it’s wings and metalic gold body. It would make a nice brooch for an entomologist to wear.
Jordan
Costa Rica

Hi Jordan,
Thanks for sending us your photo of a Costa Rican Cicada.

Letter 6 – Cicada from New Zealand

 

NZ Cicada
Hello.
I’ve been viewing several cicada sites and read about periodical and annual cicadas. I would like more information about the annual cicadas. Can you direct me to a website? At the moment, we are surrounded by the glorious singing of oodles of cicadas. Are you able to provide any detail about the one in the attached photo? This one allowed me to get really up close and personal without taking flight. Regards,
Margaret
Nelson, NZ.

Hi Margaret,
We love Lindsay Popple’s awesome Cicada website, but it is dedicated to Australian species. We will check with Lindsay and see if he knows what species this is. Lindsay quickly wrote back: “Hi Daniel, The cicada species from New Zealand is Amphipsalta zelandica. See http://hydrodictyon.eeb.uconn.edu/projects/cicada/sp_pages/NZ_species/A_zealandica.html Cheers, Lindsay.”

Letter 7 – Cicada from Brazil

 

Very beautiful cicada
Location: Campinas, São Paulo/Brazil
November 8, 2010 2:58 pm
Hey Bugman,
I’m sending you another picture of a Brazilian cicada. This one is very different from the ones i’m used to see (they’re all kinda colorless round here, but this one is very colorful).
Can you PLEASE tell me what species is this (or at least help me find the species)?
This is my third letter. I know you’re busy, but please answer this one. I’m waiting.
Thank you Bugman
PS: I have the video of the cicada singing, if you want.
Signature: Franco (Cicada Lover)

Cicada

Dear Franco,
Please forgive us for not responding to your earlier emails.  It really is impossible to respond to all of our mail and when we need to research a response, that cuts back on the quantity of letters we can answer and post.  With that said, we are unable to identify your Cicada species.  There are so many similar looking Cicadas and we haven’t the necessary skills to identify them.  Additionally, there is not a good database that we are aware of to assist in identifying Brazilian species.  We will post your letter and photos and hopefully one of our readers will be able to assist in the identification.  If you add a comment to the posting, you will automatically get notified if a comment arrives in the future.

Cicada

Letter 8 – Cicada from Brazil

 

Location:  Brazil
January 26, 2011
Thanks for posting my update, but i forgot to tell that the green cicada i attached to the e-mail (the upper pic) is not a Taphura sp, but a Carineta fasciculata. Taphura sp is just the picture below (with the scale).
Thanks again and sorry for that mistake

Cicada

Thanks for the correction Franco.

Hi Bugman! I swear this is the last e-mail i’ll send to you (i know you can’t stand me anymore… lol)!! I just passed to tell you that i finally translated my blog to english, so you and all the people who like cicadas willl be able to read it.
I discovered a new species this month, as soon as i can i’ll post more photos of it on the blog.
Please check it out! The address is still the same
(cigarrasbrasileiras.blogspot.com)
Thank you very much for your patience!!
Best wishes.
Franco

It looks great Franco, but you should also translate the title and opening paragraph.

Letter 9 – Cicada from Brazil

 

More brazilian cicadas
Location: Campinas-SP, Brazil
February 22, 2011 1:04 pm
Hi Daniel! It’s me again (Franco), and i’m here to share with you some pictures of a Dorisiana viridis, a very common cicada in the late summer in Brazil. Here’s some features: their song is a succession of short calls (like kee-kee-kee-kee), they sing in synchrony (when there’s a lot of males together), and they have two-colored eyes!! Hope you enjoy it! Best wishes
Signature: Franco

Cicada

Hi Franco,
We must say that we are amazed that so many of your Brazilian Cicadas are so tiny.  Australian Cicadas are gigantic by comparison.

Cicada

Letter 10 – Cicada from Brazil

 

Amazing green cicada
Location: Campinas, São Paulo/Brazil
March 7, 2011 10:56 am
Hi Daniel! Now i’m back to ask you about this species of cicada i found in my city (i really don’t know the species, but it seems to belong to the genus Carineta). Its size is about 3/4 inches, and it’s fully green! Sorry posting a copyrighted picture below, but it’s the only one i found with a better angle to show you the green cicada (i copied from Mongabay.com, where it was written: ”You may print this image for personal use. Provided the mongabay.com logo is not removed, you may post this picture on your web site — a link back is appreciated — and use it for school projects and powerpoints. If you are interested in using this photograph in a publication, please contact me. Please reference the URL of this photo in your email. High resolution versions may be available and it may be possible to make this image available on a t-shirt or other products.”).
Here’s the URL for the picture:
http://travel.mongabay.com/malaysia/images/borneo_5160.html
Would you identify it for me?
Thanks a lot!!!
Signature: Franco (Cicada Lover)

Cicada

Hi Franco,
Since your Cicada is from Brazil, and the image from Monga Bay is from Borneo, other than the green coloration, we are not convinced they necessarily have any close relation.  We will post the link to Monga Bay, but not the photo so our readership can easily compare images.  We hope we can eventually provide you with a species identification.

Letter 11 – Cicada from Nicaragua in genus Zammara

 

Subject: Beetle
Location: Nicaragua
April 23, 2013 4:50 pm
Hello there,
I’m very curious what kind of beetle this is!
I can’t find it anywhere and looked everywhere!
Hope you guys can help me.
Greetings,
Signature: Chantal Bosma

Cicada
Cicada

Dear Chantal,
This is a Cicada, not a beetle, and it is gorgeous.

Letter 12 – Cicada from Philippines

 

Subject: Green bug I’ve never seen before
Location: El Nido, Palawan, hilippines
May 3, 2013 7:08 am
Hi I was going to take a picture of the sunset when this bug went buzzing and scared the hell out of me. It’s an inch long, I think (without the wings) and makes a very loud buzzing! Found it in the bushes near the road. This is the only picture I can provide since I got really scared! Thanks!
Signature: KM

Cicada
Cicada

Dear KM,
This is a Cicada and they are generally regarded as being the loudest insects on earth.  We hope to be able to give you a species or genus identification eventually.

Letter 13 – Cicada from Canada

 

Subject: What type. Of bug is this
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
August 25, 2013 11:41 am
I don’t recall ever seeing this before. It’s about 1.5 in (2” including wings
Signature: Donna

Annual Cicada
Annual Cicada

Hi Donna,
Annual Cicadas in the genus
Tibicen like your individual are often mistaken for large flies.  Annual Cicadas are sometimes called Dog Day Harvestflies.  They make a loud sound like a buzz saw that can be heard in the trees in mid to late summer.

Letter 14 – Cicada from Canada

 

Subject: Giant bug Canada
Location: Canada
August 4, 2015 7:12 pm
I saw this giant bug on my run today. I thought it was a water bug but it almost looks like it has a stinger, what is it?
Signature: Cindy

Cicada
Cicada

Dear Cindy,
This is a Cicada, and you may be familiar with the loud buzzing sounds Cicadas produce, often from the tops of trees in the late summer.

Letter 15 – Cicada from Grand Cayman Island

 

Subject: Bug from Cayman Islands
Location: Grand Cayman Island
November 27, 2016 1:41 pm
Hi there, I wondered if you might be able to identify this bug for me please? It flew onto the branch in the picture like a huge flying truck! It was slow and laboured and was about 1 ½ inches long. It was spotted in the Queen Elizabeth ll nature park on Grand Cayman Island on a recent trip. It was early November and the weather was clear and sunny.
I would love to be able to identify it but don’t know where to start! Google has thrown up nothing! I took the picture myself by the way when I was looking for birds.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Signature: Linda Martin

Cicada
Cicada

Dear Linda,
This is a Cicada, and based on the image posted to CaymANNature, we believe it may be the endemic species
Diceroprocta cleavesi.

Thank you so much Daniel.  We don’t see cicadas here in the UK!
Kind regards
Linda

Letter 16 – Cicada from France

 

Subject:  Giant fly thing, please identify!
Geographic location of the bug:  Montpellier, France
Date: 07/04/2018
Time: 01:16 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  To Whom It May Concern
I found this dead in the city centre of Montpellier, France.  It was 6cm long.  I thought it was a moth at first because of the size but its wings aren’t very moth like.  I am no expert and would love to identify this.
Kind Regards
How you want your letter signed:  Alex

Cicada

Dear Alex,
You are not the first person who has written to us mistaking a Cicada for a giant fly.  One common name for annual Cicadas in North America is Dog Day Harvestfly.

Authors

    by
  • 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.

    View all posts
  • 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.

    View all posts

9 thoughts on “Where Are Cicadas Found? Discovering Their Global Habitats”

  1. I am from the manitoulin and we have had cicada,s for year,s. They were kind of an alarm clock for the summer is coming to a close. This was by the buzzing noise they mad on a hot day.

    Reply

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