Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Prairie Cicada

 This large caramel colored cicada is the Prairie Cicada (Tibicen dorsata), they are found throughout the Eastern United States. This species is one of the largest cicadas to call Missouri home and are often associated with tall grassy areas, such as meadows, prairies and tall weedy areas.
This is one of the most beautiful species of cicadas, with a gorgeous caramel color trimmed in black. The eyes are large and pinkish in color.

Like all cicadas the males sing loudly to attract a mate. Each species has it's own distinct song, and if you so desire you can learn the songs of each species and will be able to identify them without seeing them.This is similar to what bird watchers do when they learn the songs of birds.

It is not fully known if the adults eat, it can be assumed they may consume plant juices or tree sap. The nymphs live underground and feed on the roots of trees, plants and grasses. This species is considered a Dog-Day cicada and has a one year lifecycle. Meaning they will live as a nymph underground for one year, then climb up from the soil and make their way to a vertical surface where they will shed their outer skin for the last time and dry their wings. Shortly there after they males will begin singing, this typically occurs in the hottest days of summer...or the "dog-days of summer"

Cicadas are often mistakenly called Locusts. Locusts are a type of migratory grasshopper in the order orthoptera. With summer fast approaching its end, so too will end the song of these loud music makers. I for one dread the silence of their call.....for it means winter is not far away!


  1. I don't see them on the prairie much, I more can hear them. I think they have enough predators to stay hidden well. I have heard a distinct voice difference when I travel around the US, but not as easy tp identify for me as a bird.They can get really loud sometimes, guess I shall have to try harder to separate their calls.

  2. Shelly CH and I were talking about these guys yesterday and how we will miss sitting under the Oaks and hearing their "music". I mean what is summer without that music and lightening bugs too? Their music has been sputtering out down in our little bit of MissouREE so I guess we will have to be content watching the butterflies and the Goldfinch work over our worn out coneflowers. I think I may be ready for Fall :)

  3. Thanks Friend, I appreciate you stopping by and looking around

  4. Steve this large prairie cicada has a song that is very distinct, and it is a shy cicada generally speaking. They can be hard to approach. I just got lucky with this individual. Most times I try to get anywhere near them and they are quick to fly away. I don't think I could begin to learn 11 different songs and separate them for our species here in Missouri, I'm sure it would give me a headache to try....LOL

  5. Rural--their songs are waning here as well. I always hate to hear the silence, even though I love Autumn, I do not like winter. I suffer through it, mumbling and grumbling about the cold and the lack of bugs and being stuck inside so much! I wish we could skip right to spring, but alas I know that isn't possible. I've had a couple of pairs of goldfinches tearing apart the coneflowers as well. It is fun to watch them swaying in the breeze as they hang onto that awkward perch pecking away at seeds.

  6. I saw one on the gate of my deck on the night of July 4th, it was in the process of shedding its outer skin, I photographed it and also caught it still intact with wings spred.