Cicadas, pronounced “si-key-duh,” are true bugs that contain a “proboscis” or “snout-like” mouth meant for piercing and sucking. Cicadas come from the family of Cicadidae, from the order of Hemiptera, relative to aphids, shield bugs, plant-hoppers and leaf-hoppers.
Cicadas are a common insect to most of the world and to Tooele County as well. These special creatures are known as the world’s loudest insects. In fact, the cicada’s song is loud enough to be heard a mile away, and it has even been noted that if a cicada sang beside your ear, the sound would be loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss. Otherwise, they are harmless to humans.
Like crickets, male Cicadas sing to attract females, and though there are more than 2,500 different species of Cicadas, each song is different so they may attract females of their own species. When females are mated, they go and lay their eggs inside the branches of trees, and when the eggs hatch, they fall to the soil. Nymph Cicada babies live in the soil until they metamorphosis into adults.
Another interesting fact, depending on the species, cicada mortality ranges from two to three years for some, while others live as long as 13 to 17 years! During this time, cicadas spend most of their lives as nymphs, living in the ground, feeding on root sap. When cicadas reach adulthood, they only live two weeks to 40 days, which is just enough time to mate and reproduce.
You may not know this, but cicadas are commonly served as a delicacy in many cultures. In Burma, Latin America, China and the Congo, cicadas are served deep fried, skewered and even made in pastries. Sometimes cicadas are even kept as pets. In China, for example, the males are caged and put in households so their song can be enjoyed.
Addie T. Lindsay, 16, is an accomplished writer and photographer of wildlife creatures big and small. She can be contacted at CritterChatter@live.com.