About animals

Singing cicadas: insect description, habitat, nutrition, life cycle


Since ancient times cicada consider insect embodying immortality. Perhaps this was associated with a long life expectancy and her extraordinary appearance.

The ancient Greeks believed that cicadas did not have blood, and its only food was dew. It was these insects that were placed in the oral cavity of the dead, thereby providing them with immortality.

Cicada is the emblem of Typhon, who gained eternal life, but not youth. Aging and weakness turned him into a cicada. And according to the legend of Titan, whom the goddess of dawn Eos loved, she was forced to make it a cicada, because she could not prevent the aging of Titan.

Also, the cicada symbolizes the change of light and darkness. The ancient Greeks brought cicadas to Apollo, the sun god.

The Chinese have a cicada symbol of resurrection. At the same time, eternal youth, immortality, and cleansing from vices are associated with it. Dried cicada is worn as an amulet opposed to death. The Japanese hear in the singing of an insect the voices of their homeland, calmness and unity with nature.

Features and habitat of cicadas

Cicada is a large insect found all over the world, mainly in warm regions where there are forest plantations. The exception is the polar and subpolar regions. Differences in species of the cicadal suborder differ only in size and color. The most famous family is singing or real cicadas.

In the photo, a singing cicada

It has more than one and a half thousand species. Some of them are especially noteworthy:

    • the largest is the royal cicada up to 7 cm long and wingspan up to 18 cm. Its habitat is the islands of the archipelagos of Indonesia,

    • oak cicada reaches 4.5 cm. It is found in Ukraine, as well as in southern Russia,

    • ordinary cicada can be found on the Black Sea. Its size is about 5 cm, causing significant damage to the vineyards,

    • mountain cicada has the smallest dimensions of only 2 cm. It lives in more northern regions than its relatives,

    • the periodic cicada inhabits North America. It is interesting for its development cycle, which is 17 years old. At the end of this period, a huge number of insects appear,

  • about white cicada insect, citrus citadel or metalcafe in Russia became known only in 2009. Imported from North America, it has adapted perfectly and is currently a threat to gardens and orchards. The insect, similar to a small moth, has a size of 7–9 mm and a grayish-white color.

Cicada insect looks how big fly, others compare it with night butterflies. On the short head are very prominent complex eyes.

Oak cicada

In the area of ​​the crown there are three simple eyes in the shape of a triangle. Small antennae include seven segments. The 3-segmented proboscis represents the mouth. The front pair of wings of the insect is much longer than the rear. Most species have transparent wings; in some they are bright or black.

Spikes are located on the short and thickened lower legs of the cicada. At the end of the abdomen there is a hollow ovipositor (in females) or a copulatory organ (in males).

Taxonomy of insects

Which insect order does cicadas belong to? Scientists attributed them to the winged proboscis (Homoptera). Diptera - because all 4 wings are the same or almost the same density. Proboscis - as they have a piercing-sucking proboscis. They feed on the juice of plants. Aphids, scale insects, and worms also belong to this order.

Characteristic of Cicadas

Despite the fact that cicadas are allocated in a separate suborder, they have common signs of insects. So, representatives of this taxon have front wings either transparent or leathery. Fold roof-top. The body is thick, the wings protrude far beyond the tip of the abdomen. Antennae short, articulated. On the broad head there are 2 complex eyes and three simple eyes.

The larvae are tender, with thin integuments; therefore, they live in shelters. At first they live under the bark of trees, then they fall to the ground and bury rather deeply. Sometimes a meter in depth. Some representatives protect themselves from predators and drying out, forming a foam around their body.

The length of the cicadas is from 2 to 70 mm. Smaller representatives jump perfectly, using the hind limbs for this. In large species, all limbs are walking.

Song Cicadas

Allocated to a separate family. The family is also called "real cicadas." They have a number of common features. The description of song cicadas is as follows: large insects with a thick abdomen, walking legs and well-developed transparent wings. The hips of the front legs are thickened, with two to three teeth. All representatives have a remarkable ability for loud singing. There are about 1,500 species in the world of singing cicadas. These creatures live mainly in warm climatic zones.

Signs of insects are the same for all representatives of song cicadas. Therefore, remembering one cicada, it is easy to determine the belonging of other species to the same family.

Singing cicadas

Cicadas sing in a variety of ways. Description of the song individually for each species. The voice may be like the sound of a circular saw or the monotonous signal of a train. Some songs are distinguished by the presence of two parts, different in sound.

The timbal organs that produce sound are located on the ventral side of the body. Special plates cover the device. The cymbals themselves consist of three membranes. The outer membrane is connected to powerful muscles. Muscles change the convexity of the membrane to concavity, and vice versa. The muscles attached to the center of the instrument tighten, bending the membrane. The sound is played. Then the muscles relax, and the membrane takes its former position. At this point, sound may be reproduced, or may not be heard by the human ear. The result is chirping, as when playing with the convex lid of a can. The remaining membranes (front and back) resonate with the outer or have their own muscles. The back membrane is called a “mirror”. She beautifully shimmers with different colors.

Oscillations occur up to 4000 times per second in the presence of sufficient heat. However, a hundred times per second is enough to chirp a cicada. Large air cavities amplify sound - they are resonators. The cavities are connected to the spiracles for air supply. By the way, only large representatives sing loudly. Smaller ones also sing, but so quietly that they can not be heard by the human ear. For a long time it was believed that only males sing. In 1959, 19 species of European cicadas were studied. It turned out that the females are also singing. However, sound amplifiers are needed so that a person can hear their sounds.

Some representatives sing so loudly that a person’s ear cannot stand it. It perfectly protects against predators. Such loud cicadas are common, for example, in the deserts of North America.

The cicada with the longest life cycle lives on the same continent. The larva turns into an adult after 17 years. This is a record among insects. However, not all species of the family have been studied. Perhaps other amazing representatives of singing cicadas will open.


What does cicada eat? Larvae live underground, where they feed on the juice of young plant roots. Also suck the juice of the underground part of the stem. What does a cicada eat when it grows up? Adult representatives pierce the cell walls of plants with a proboscis and drink juice. After a meal of insects, the juice continues to stand out. A droplet of nutrient fluid is formed. She freezes in the air. Manna - such droplets are called.

Thus, the habitat of song cicadas is a biotope with vegetation. Adults love to sing, sitting on trees and shrubs. Larvae live in the soil under the same woody plants. Song cicadas are spread all over the world.

Signs that you hear a cicada

How to distinguish cicada singing from orthoptera sounds? Cicadas take their trills usually in the afternoon, especially in the hot midday hours. The fact is that a lot of energy is needed for singing. This energy gives solar heat. Only a small number of representatives are awake at dusk. In this case, energy is generated through the work of muscles, which are usually used for flight.

Singing cicadas sit on trees and shrubs, usually taller than a man. So if the song is heard from above, then, most likely, the male trills it.

Life Cycle of Cicadas

The female makes an ovipositor hole in the bark of a fresh young twig of a tree or bush. Lays eggs in a recess. Larvae come out of them. At first, they can remain on the branches and eat the juices of the aerial parts of the plant. But then they necessarily fall to the ground and immediately begin to dig into the ground, where it is difficult to find them for consumers of insects. There is enough moisture underground, cool, a lot of food. Larvae have digging limbs. Young insects are looking for insects. Pierce the beak proboscis vegetation and suck the juice. So they eat from a year to 17 years, depending on the type of insect. Vegetable juice is not very nutritious, so the development of many representatives is delayed for several years.

In the process of growth, the larvae molt several times. Before the last molt they come to the surface. They sit on the trunk of the nearest tree. Here an adult grows out of the larva. This is a long, not a minute process. After leaving the old skin, the cicada dries its wings for about an hour. An adult lives 1-2 months. Thus, the cicada has a life cycle with incomplete transformation, that is, the pupal stage is absent.

The representative of central Russia

Mountain cicada (Cicadetta Montana) - the only representative living in central Europe. The rest of the real cicadas live south. Mountain cicada is smaller than its tropical relatives. The name "mountain" is not entirely successful, because this species lives mainly on the plains.

Studies of a typical representative of Australia

David Young is an Australian research scientist. He is studying the singing of Australian green cicadas (Cyclochila australasias).

Creation of this, sitting on a tree, begins to sing. After some time, the remaining males living nearby join the "soloist". It turns out a whole choir. Usually one insect sings for several seconds or minutes. The invertebrate chorus continues to sing for a long time. So males attract females.

The singing of the green cicada is perceived as a continuous loud sound without changing the tonality. David Young, choosing an individual sitting alone, recorded a song on a tape recorder. Next, we analyzed the recording on the computer. It turned out that cicada singing is a lot of impulses. Moreover, the right and left instruments work in turn. The number of pulses was usually 230 and at times reached 4000 per second.

In the process of chirping, singing cicadas take a special stance. The male lifts the abdomen, while the wings diverge slightly to the sides.

Other representatives of the cicadas suborder

In addition to singing representatives, the cicadas include the families of the Cicadas, Gorbatki, Pennitsa. They all have the same appearance. However, they also have hind limbs.

Cicadas are smaller compared to real cicadas. The front wings are dense, leathery. These creatures are very mobile, fly better than cicadas of singers. Both larvae and adults live on grassy vegetation.

Humpbacks have curly outgrowths on the pronotum. Most diverse in South America.

Pennies are often brightly colored. Their front wings are dense. They jump beautifully, but in danger they fall to the ground, where they are more difficult to notice. Pennant larvae have a special adaptation against drying out. They form a foamy mass around themselves, for which they got their name.

The larva secrete a special fluid - plant sap that is not absorbed by the body. The larva is inhabited by symbionts that secrete mucin. Mucin is added to the secretion. It provides fluid viscosity. The larva foams the juice of plants with mucin, releasing air bubbles into the mass from the spiracles and whipping it with quick movements of the legs. So she finds herself in her wet house. Penicidal cicadas live all over the world. In Madagascar, for example, droplets of foam fall from trees - the release of cicadas, as if it was raining.

The attitude of people to cicadas

Among peoples, attitudes toward cicadas vary greatly. So, the Romans really did not like the crackling singing of these insects. The ancient Greeks respected cicadas, loved to listen to their music, and even depicted insects on coins. In Spain, cicadas are very fond of. You can always see souvenirs with the image of these creations on sale.


Psaltoda claripennis is a cicada whose wing surface is seated with microscopic needles. Such a surface kills bacteria falling on the wings. Scientists plan to use the discovery to create bactericidal materials.

Insects are interesting if you look closely at them. Scientists have yet to study many more species of cicadas and other invertebrates. Many amazing discoveries have been made in science, and we still have to learn new secrets from the life of insects, their structure and behavior. Many arthropods lead a complex lifestyle. Cicadas are distinguished by an unusual structure, are record holders among insects. Moreover, they are very beautiful. Anyone who has seen the mass exit of adult song cicadas from the last stage of the nymph larva will obviously not remain indifferent.

The nature and lifestyle of the cicada

Published cicadas sounds can be heard at a distance of 900 meters from the location of the insect. Some insects make sounds, the volume of which reaches 120 dB. Unlike grasshoppers and crickets, they do not rub their paws one on top of the other; they have a special organ for this.

Sounds are made using two membranes (cymbals). Special muscles allow you to strain and relax them. The vibrations that arise in this process cause “singing”, which is amplified by a special camera that can open and close in time with the vibrations.

Often cicada insects publish sounds not individually, but in groups, which does not allow predators to find individual individuals.

However, the main purpose of singing is to call the male to the female to extend the genus. Each type of cicadas makes characteristic sounds for its females.

Listen to the sound of cicadas

Females sing much quieter than males. Cicadas settle in shrubs and tree branches, they know how to fly well. And although you can hear the insect often, see, and even more so catch a cicada quite problematic.

This fact does not prevent fishermen from using them as bait. It creates very large vibrations that perfectly attract fish. Cicadas are eaten in Africa, Asia, in some regions of the United States, Australia. Insects are boiled, fried, eaten with a side dish.

They contain a large amount of protein, approximately 40% and they have a low calorie content. Their taste resembles that of potatoes or asparagus.

Many predator insects do not mind eating cicadas. For example, some representatives of earthen wasps feed them to their larvae. It is noteworthy that the Russian compiler of fables, I. A. Krylov, used the image from Aesop’s creations when writing the work “Dragonfly and Ant”.

An error crept into the work, the word “cigale” was translated incorrectly. The main character of the fable was supposed to be exactly a cicada. In addition, real dragonflies can neither jump nor sing.

Cicada nutrition

The juice of trees, plants and shrubs is the main and only food for cicadas. With her proboscis, she damages the bark and sucks the juice. Females also use the ovipositor for food production.Often juice for a long time flows from plants and forms manna, which is considered a very useful substance.

A very large damage from cicadas and their larvae is carried by agriculture. At the same time, both cereal and garden plantations suffer. Damaged areas of plants are covered with whitish spots, increasing with time. The plant becomes weak, its leaves are deformed.

Single insects do not harm the plant, however, the accumulation of insects can lead to its death.


This insect lives almost all over the world where there are forests. That is why it often becomes food. geckos, chameleons, salamander and even scolopendra.

The vast majority of cicadas prefer a warm climate, therefore in the middle latitudes there is only a species more adapted to such conditions - mountain cicada (Cicadetta montana).

The northern border of its range passes through the Scandinavian countries, the Leningrad and Pskov regions of Russia. Separate foci are found in the south of Siberia and the Far East.

The most famous ordinary cicada (Lyristes plebejus) is distributed in the subtropical regions of Europe, Russia and Ukraine: the Mediterranean, the Caucasus, Transcaucasia and the southern part of the Crimean peninsula.

Hardwood forests, especially oak groves and ash groves, are a favorite habitat for these insects.

From the forest-steppe in the south to the border of the taiga in the north, one can hear their chirping.

Representatives of the cicadas suborder are characterized by the fact that all their species are very similar to each other. Differences are observed in size and color.

Reproduction and longevity of cicadas

The life expectancy of adult cicadas is short-lived. An adult insect only manages to lay eggs. In the fall, using the ovipositor, the females pierce the soft areas of the plant (leaf, stem, peel, etc.) and place the eggs there. Four weeks later, larvae are born from them.

The life cycle of some types of cicadas is of great interest. Their life cycle is adjusted to a large prime number (1, 3, 5 .......17, etc.). All these years the larva spends underground, then it gets out, mates, lays eggs and dies.

However, the life span of an insect in the state of a larva of a larger number of species has not yet been studied. Cicadas - of all insects, the stomach has the longest life (up to 17 years).


Representatives of the cicadas suborder are characterized by the fact that all their species are very similar to each other. Differences are observed in size and color.

The suborder includes several families. The most famous is the family of singers or true cicadas.

It has more than 1,500 species. The most noteworthy of them:

  • Regal cicada. The largest of all known (has a length of 6.5 cm and a wingspan of 18 cm). Distributed on the islands of the archipelagos of Indonesia.
  • Oak cicada, reaching a length of 4.5 cm, lives in the forests of southern Russia, as well as Ukraine.
  • Common cicada, photo of which can be taken while on the Black Sea coast. The songs of this 5-centimeter insect are heard by thousands of holidaymakers in the midst of the holiday season.
  • Mountain cicada. The smallest representative of his family (2 cm), living much north of relatives.
  • Periodic cicadaliving in North America. It is noteworthy in that the development cycle it lasts for as long as 17 years. The end of this period is accompanied by the birth of a huge number of insects.

The cicada has the ability to produce melodic sounds using special organs called cymbals. They are membranes located on the male’s belly.

All these types of insects have the ability to produce melodic sounds with the help of special organs called cymbals.

They are membranes located on the male’s belly. Thanks to special muscles, he can strain and relax them.

All this “mechanism” is equipped with a special camera for amplifying sound, which opens and closes along with vibrations.

All this allows you to create a melody that can be heard at a distance of up to 900 meters. Southern species of cicadas sing especially loudly.

Interesting!I.A. Krylov in his fable "Dragonfly and Ant" did not mean a dragonfly at all. She can't jump and sing. But it works great for cicadas. The famous Russian writer used in this fable a plot from the work of the French poet Lafontaine, who drew his images from the fables of the ancient Greek Aesop. Krylov I.A. translated the word "cigale" is not correct. And so the jumping and singing dragonfly appeared in Russian classics.

The whole family of these “musical” insects resembles moths. Individuals have a short head with complexly protruding sideways eyes. Another 3 simple eyes are located on the crown with a triangle. Antennae short, consisting of 7 segments. The oral apparatus is represented by a 3-segmented proboscis


The whole family of these “musical” insects resembles moths. Individuals have a short head with complexly protruding sideways eyes.

Another 3 simple eyes are located on the crown with a triangle. Antennae short, consisting of 7 segments. The oral apparatus is represented by a 3-segmented proboscis.

Insects have two pairs of wings. The front is much longer than the rear.

In most species, they are transparent, but in some they can be brightly colored or black. Short, thickened at the bottom of the legs, equipped with spikes.

The abdomen of the cicada is thickened, ending with a hollow ovipositor in females and a copulation organ in males.

Larvae are very different from adults. They have a body of 3 to 5 mm. in length. Their thick massive legs have a hard and smooth cuticle finish.

Single-arm limbs are armed with impressive spikes, which are necessary for digging the soil.

The color of the larvae is highly dependent on their age and species. Most often they have a whitish hue.

With cicadas singing, holidays on the south coast are always associated

Interesting!Cicada in ancient Greece was considered a symbol of immortality. This is due to its long life cycle. It was believed that they lack blood, and they feed on dew. A cicada was placed in the mouth of a deceased person to ensure immortality.

The Greek character Typhon was immortal, but did not remain young, but grew old. Over time, it dried up and turned into this insect.

In China, cicada also means eternal life, and when dried, it is a charm from death. In Japan, worship cicadas.

It means the homeland, peace and beauty of the world.

Cicada has a long life cycle for insects. In most species, it lasts from 2 to 4 years. Periodic cicada - record holder in this part

Key Features

This insect has some features that distinguish it from others:

  • The ability to produce loud melodic sounds to attract females.
  • Long life cycle. In most species, it lasts from 2 to 4 years. Periodic cicada is the record holder in this part.
  • Distributed throughout the world, with the exception of the polar and circumpolar regions.

In addition, the insect is the hero of many works of fiction, and also in the allegorical sense is present in the names of films.

The Japanese anime series "When Cicadas Cry" is widely known.

The cicada feeds on the sap of trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants. Her proboscis is perfectly adapted for this, with which she pierces the bark or surface layer and sucks the juice

The cicada feeds on the sap of trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants.

Her proboscis is perfectly adapted for this, with which she pierces the bark or surface layer and sucks the juice.

Females also use the ovipositor to damage the cortex.

Sometimes juice flows from these damages and hardens under the influence of air, forming manna, which is a nutrient.

Interesting!Cicadas are one of the most dangerous crop pests. Each year, these insects destroy a huge amount of grain, root crops and berries. Due to the nature of their life cycle, there are years in which their population grows tenfold. Therefore, the fight against them must be conducted in strict accordance with the life cycle, which will make it more effective.

With the onset of autumn, females use their oviposites to pierce leaves, stems, and other soft tissues of plants. In the formed hole they lay eggs, from which larvae appear in a month


With the onset of autumn, females use their oviposites to pierce leaves, stems, and other soft tissues of plants.

They lay eggs in the formed hole, from which larvae appear in a month. They are called nymphs.

After several stages of molting, they turn into adult insects (adults). This can be understood by the emerging wings.

Due to this complex cycle, nymphs and adults of different ages can be found at one time.

Life expectancy in the form of a larva and pupa differs greatly in different species.

Some are at this stage for several years. Nymphs are mobile and feed on leaf juice.

In South America, there is a species that harms coffee trees by sucking sap from its soft tissues.

Interesting!People have noticed that periodic cicadas are born once every 7, 11, 13, 17 years. Hordes of these insects literally soar into the sky. They multiply rapidly and die. At first glance, there is nothing strange - they are periodic in fact. But all these numbers are simple (they are divided only by one and by themselves). An explanation for this phenomenon has not yet been found.

Insects are a complete source of protein. This is well known in Thailand. The national cuisine of this country is unthinkable without the use of insect dishes. Cicadas and other arthropods are bred on special full-cycle farms

Content and breeding

Insects are a complete source of protein. This is well known in Thailand.

The national cuisine of this country is unthinkable without the use of insect dishes.

Cicadas and other arthropods are bred on special full-cycle farms.

Although the use of insects for Europeans is exotic today, it cannot be ruled out that in the future they will become an important source of protein products for all of humanity.

Although the phrase “crying cicadas” is an artistic metaphor, someone can recognize crying in their chirping.

Cicada: skillfully singing insect

Mountain cicada, photo of a singing cicada, structural features of the body of cicadas, insects that can chant, called cicadas, periodic cicadas and their features