©Getty Images

©Getty Images

Cicadas are insects so their bodies have three parts, with three pairs of legs on the middle part, and they have wings.  There are almost 2000 different species, or kinds, of cicadas in the world, found everywhere except Antarctica.  

The wing span of the smallest species isabout 2.5 centimetres. The largest species, the Pomponia imperatoria in Malaysia, can have a wing span of up to 15 centimetres.

 Black Prince, the Green Grocer and the Double Drummer are the common names for three of the 200 Australian species of cicada.  Cicadas are harmless to people.

©Getty Images

©Getty Images

 

Body

Cicadas have two pairs of glassy, veined wings. Adult cicadas have compound eyes on the top of the head.  Compound eyes are like multiple eyes, and help an insect detect movement in a wide area. The mouth parts of the cicada are used to pierce the surface of plants to suck out the juices.  

Adult males attract a female to mate by making a very loud singing noise using a part of the body called the tymbal.  Females reply with a sound made by clicking their wings together. 

Life Cycle

Adult emerging from the final moult. ©Getty Images

Adult emerging from the final moult. ©Getty Images

Like most insects, cicadas look very different when they hatch out of their eggs, and have to change into their adult form. 

After mating, the female makes a slit in the branch of a tree and lays her eggs in it. She does both of these things with a strong, sharp egg-laying spike called the ovipositor.  

In about 6 weeks, the eggs hatch and tiny larvae called nymphs drop to the ground and burrow into the soil. The nymphs feed by sucking the sap from the roots of the tree with their feeding tubes. Depending on the species, most kinds of cicada nymphs live for up to seven years underground, moulting (shedding their skin) as they grow because their skin does not stretch.  One species lives underground for 17 years!

The empty nymph case left on the tree. ©Getty Images

The empty nymph case left on the tree. ©Getty Images

When the nymphs are fully grown, they burrow out of the soil and climb up the tree. They moult for the last time, and emerge as adult cicadas with wings, leaving their empty nymph case holding on to the tree.

 Adult cicadas live for only a few weeks. Birds eat cicadas and wasps lay their eggs in them.

 

Read more about Australian cicadas. Click on the names on the right hand side to

find out about a few species:

http://australianmuseum.net.au/cicadas-superfamily-cicadoidea

 Watch a video of nymphs emerging from the ground and moulting for the last time

before flying away to find mates: 

http://thekidshouldseethis.com/post/49945860421