After it hatches, a cicada spent their first year as a nymph. With claw-like forelegs, they can easily burrow deep into the ground, where they remain for many years, shedding their skin nearly five times as they develop. Based on the species, the nymph stage of New Zealand cicadas can take approximately 3 years or even longer. Tunneling into the ground, the cicada nymph usually encounters plant’s roots. To feed, it simply inserts its needle-like mouthparts that contain two fine tubes, into a root. It pumps its saliva down one tube while sucking the semi-digested root sap up on the other.
When the nymph is prepared to emerge as an adult, it burrows up to the surface. Then it climbs a fence post, tree trunk or other vertical surfaces, attaching itself with the sharp claws. The skin separates down the back as the adult emerges out with the head first. The brittle empty husks can usually be seen while still hanging by the claws. Adult cicadas feed on the sap of plants and only live many weeks – sufficient to mate and lay their eggs. While cicada nymphs live in the soil, they may be easily infected with a parasitic fungus like Isaria sinclairii. The fungus constantly feeds on the nymph’s insides until it fully fills its body cavity. It then sends a common stalk up to the surface and develops the spore-bearing structure. Eventually, the powdery spores fall to the ground when it is ready to infect other cicada nymphs.
Periodical Cicadas-the ones with 13 or 17-year cycles-initially made an appearance in scientific literature almost 300 years ago. These cicadas are different from the ones who make an appearance each summer. The periodical Cicadas remain juveniles for over a decade until hormones are generated and turn them into adults. Cicadas are kind of real bugs which belong to the family Cicadas. There are about 2500 Cicadas which can be found on all continents except on Antarctica. Cicadas usually like areas with tropical and temperate climate. They can be found on the beaches, in the wetlands, forests, alpine areas, deserts, cities, and fields. Cicadas are part of human diet in Africa, Asia, and South America. Shells of Cicadas are used in to make traditional Chinese’s medicine. Despite that, Cicadas are numerous and widespread in the wild (they are not among the endangered species).
Interesting Cicadas Facts:
- Cicadas can reach up to 3 inches in length.
- Cicadas have the dark-colored body with green markings.
- Cicadas have two big red eyes on the side of the head and three tiny eyes on top of the head. They have 2 pairs of transparent wings and short antennas in front of the eyes.
- Cicadas spend the large part of their life under the ground.
- Cicadas are herbivores (plant-eaters). Their diet is usually based on the juices extracted from the stem and roots of different plants.
- Cicadas utilize their straw-like mouth to extract the fluid from the tissue of plants. They can produce massive damage to trees, crops, and shrubs.
- Cicadas (adults) can survive from 4 -6 weeks.
- Natural enemies of cicadas are rodents, squirrels, moles, birds, spiders, lizards, killer wasps, and fish.