The cicada

Greek summer: heat, wind, and draught – and the endless songs of the crickets and the cicadas. Of the cicadas in particular. The screech of Cicada orni tirelessly shrills in the trees all summer long from dawn to dusk. Yes, crickets may chirp, but cicadas shrill. It’s hard to believe what an intense sound this little creature is able to produce.

And their vocalizations are not the only amazing thing about the cicadas. These insects are fascinating. We know about 40,000 cicada species. They live wherever plants grow, and play an important role in the ecosystem and the food chain. Many cicadas are specific to a host plant and are adapted to special environmental conditions so that they are very sensitive to any interference with their natural environment. About half the cicada species occurring in Germany are listed on the Red List of Endangered Species. Cicadas are altogether harmless insects: they cannot bite or sting. In many parts of the world cicadas are actually eaten by humans; worldwide there are more than 70 edible cicada species.

Cicada orni in an olive tree. Note the small antennae and the way the animal holds its wings at an angle.

Here you can see the large eyes and the white abdomen tip.

A cicada head from above with the short, thin antennae, the compound eyes at the sides of the head and the upper two of the three ocelli.


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