Saturday, October 22, 2011

Plains Dog-Day Cicada

This small cicada is the Plains Dog-Day Cicada (Tibicen auriferus). They are found throughout most of the Midwestern states. This is one of eleven species of cicadas that call Missouri home. They measure approximately one inch in length with the wings extending another 1/4 to 1/2 inch past the abdomen.

They are commonly found in grasslands and meadows near forested areas. These were found on a farm my husband family owns in Andrew County. It is predominately tall grass meadows with woodlands...perfect habitat for these cicadas. What is odd though, this is the first time we've ever found them on this farm. They have a very distinct call that sounds like a chainsaw cutting wood. It is very high pitched an whiney.

This species reportedly feeds on vascular plants such as conifers, ferns and horsetails. They are found from July through September which are typically the hottest days of the year. It is the emergence of these cicadas in conjunction with the "dogdays" of summer that has earned them their common name of Dog-day cicadas.

Cicadas are an important part of the food chain and provide nutrition for many animals from mice, squirrels, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, and even large spiders.

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