Cicada



Scientific Name- Tibicen tibicen
Kingdom- Animlaia
Phylum- Arthopoda
Class- Insecta
Order- Hemiptera
Suborder- Auchenorrhyncha
Infraorder- Cicadomorpha
Family- Cicadidae
cicada.JPG
The Amazing Cicada

Morphology


Cicadas usually range in size from 2-5 cm although some tropical species have been known to reach 15 cm. Cicadas have prominent eyes set wide apart on the side of the head with short antennae either between or in front of the eyes with membranous front wings. Cicadas also have a three strange eyes called ocelli located on the top of the head between two large eyes. This characteristic is hard to spot due to the fact that the small ocelli are the same color as the larger eyes making them indistinguishable.
There are two major types of Cicadas one called Magicada and the other known as Tibicen which is the Cicada of this particular wiki. The differences between these two cicada are hard to spot and come down to a few noticeable characterisitics.
Magicada................................Tibicen

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-13 to 17 year life cycle.............- 2 to 7 year life cycle......................................................................Periodical Cicada above
- emerges in broods...................- emerges annually
- come millions at a time............- small cluster emerge once in a while

Also known as: Periodical Cicada / Also known as: Jar Fly...............................................................................................................................................Tibicen Cicada above

Habitat


Specifically cicadas live around trees or other places with a large proportion of food around. Their main source of nourishment lies in the living fluid within trees known as xylem although younger cicadas may feed of the fluids off grass when they are younger, but they will eventually move on to trees. One would think that human interaction would have seriously affected the cicada population since their habitat is constantly being destroyed. Cicadas are adaptable creatures though and have began living on the sides of roads, in chimneys, and other human constructions. The Magicada cicada are special in the fact that most of their time is spent underground until seventeen years when they burst fourth for a short period of time.


A Cicada in its natural habitat
A Cicada in its natural habitat


Geographic Range


Cicadas as well as most Hemipteras are unique in the fact that they live all around the world except for Antarctica which has to be expected. They live one each of the other continents, dabble in living right on the ocean's surface and also on remote islands. For that reason it will be hard to find anywhere to be without being in the presence of cicadas whether you know it or or not. In the United States the Tibicen tibicen is the predominant species, but that doesn't mean other varieties such as the Magicada aren't around. Cicadas are found all over the world, but specific species are only in some places. The American Tibicen cicada ranges from Eastern North America to Central America east of the Rockies.

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Mating Behavior


The Mating Ritual of the cicadas is similar to that of grasshoppers in which the male will produce a rather loud noise to attract the appropriate mate. The cicadas though unlike other insects do not rub their legs together to produce these sounds instead the cicada uses tymbals which are on the side of their abdomen. These tymbals consist of regions of the exoskeleton altered with complex membranes as well as ribs to pull these membranes. When a cicada contract the muscles in the tymbals it produces a clicking noise and as the cicada releases another clicking noise is produced. To amplify the sound, the male's abdomen is surprisingly hollow to provide a louder sound. An interesting fact is that each species of cicada has unique mating call so that they can call to another appropriate member of their own species and not get confused with another cicada of a different species.



Two Cicadas of the Magicada mating
Two Cicadas of the Magicada mating



Life Cycle


The Cicada life cycle begins with an impregnated female cicada laying eggs. Normally a cicada will lay 400-600 eggs if it is of the Magicada or 500-600 if it is of the Tibicen, but most of these eggs will die before birth. Cicadas normally lay their eggs into plant material dividing the eggs into small batches known as eggnests. A cicada will be very careful in choosing the tree in which to plant her eggs as it will act as shelter and a food source to the larvae. These test consist of testing the branch size of the tree, the taste of the fluid within the tree, and the toughness of the tree which is tested with her ovipositor which will create the incision into which the eggs are planted. The mother will leave her eggs behind and prior to hatching the eggs will turn a bright salmon color with the the newborn larvae will share a similar shading.


Cicada Larvae... in all its glory
Cicada Larvae... in all its glory


The life cycle is not over yet though. For the first portion of its life the larvae will feed on the plant fluid in which they were implanted till they have reached a decent size. Upon this time the larvae will crawl from the incision made in the plant or tree and venture to the ground. There the larvae will dig underground to feed off of tree roots where it will spend the next two to seventeen years of its life depending on its species. After this period the cicada will reemerge having transformed into a nymph.




Cicada nymph... in even more glory
Cicada nymph... in even more glory



The life cycle is now beginning to reach its roundabout. The nymph climbs to the nearest available tree and sheds its old skin. The wings now emerge and fill with liquid its body also hardening in the process. When the cicada is read it will fly off beginning its brief adult life and reproduce.














Feeding Habits


Cicadas as stated previous primary form of nutrition comes from the fluid from within trees called xylem and when younger the fluid within grasses. So instead this section will be used to clear up a notion that has appeared in regular society about cicadas. Many believe that cicadas bite or sting even having experience it themselves, but this is not the case. When a cicada lands on a person it is usually due to the fact that it has misinterpreted you as a tree. This can be caused by lack of motion when sitting down or simply a blunder on the cicadas part. Left uninterrupted the cicada will merely assume that its belief in you as a tree was correct and proceed to try to eat the living fluid out of your body. Don't worry though the cicada is usually unable to pierce human flesh and in addition blood would be unendurable for a cicada. The problem is the cicada mouth which acts similar to that of a proboscis on a butterfly will feel like a pierce or bite to a person. This will lead to the person having an intense dislike towards cicadas from than on due to the misconception that cicadas can sting. Hopefully less cicadas will be killed or threatened with more people knowing about their more docile nature.


A cicada's mouth part... do not fear
A cicada's mouth part... do not fear

Ecological Role


Cicadas are one of the insects with the brand of pest, but that does not mean they have no ecological significance. The cicada are harmful in the fact that their mating call when in large numbers can be rather annoying and disturbing to people around it and the cicadas also harm plants in the process of egg planting since it require the cicada to make incisions into the plant or tree itself. This causes the plant to become rather unattractive and in some cases die. Although cicadas are also known to help moisturize soil in the surrounding area because of their intake of xylem. The waste produced from this liquid helps moisturize soil making it more suitable to plant and crop growth. Plus they distract cicada killers, their natural predator, which unlike the cicada will sting a person and will really hurt as well. So cicadas as annoying as they can be our friend as well.


Who could hate such a lovable face?
Who could hate such a lovable face?



References


Podcast link-http://www.podcastdirectory.com/podshows/710032
Glog link-http://joefosho.glogster.com/false/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/cicada
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_cicada_killer
http://www.cicadamania.com/cicadas/2008/06/28/do-cicadas-bite-or-sting/
http://bugguide.net/node/view/111296
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magicicada
http://www.masterbeekeeper.org/stinging/cicadakiller.htm
http://www.biology-online.org/dictionary/Pest
//http://www.thefreedictionary.com/proboscis//
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/650951/xylem
http://insects.about.com/od/o/g/def_ovipositor.htm
//http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/course/ent425/tutorial/integ.html//
http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/course/ent425/tutorial/abdomen.html
//http://www.mnh.si.edu/highlight/cicadas/pages/tymbal.htm//