Archive | 12:00 pm

Cryptic Cicada

19 Mar
A cicada camouflaged against the bark.

A cicada camouflaged against the bark.

We found cicadas like this one on trees all through our Argentina field sites.  They sing noisily, but are tremendously cryptic against the bark.  I practiced my auditory hunting skills, tipping my head every which way to locate the direction of the sound.  Occasionally I could triangulate the position of my noisy neighbor.  Trying to spot them was sort of like looking at a magic eye puzzle.  Stare long enough and sometimes you’d realize one was two inches in front of your nose.

Cicadas (family Cicadidae) are members of the hemipteran family Auchenorrhyncha.  This little fellow was a fairly small species of cicada, maybe 2-3 cm long.  Most people are familiar with cicadas for their loud courtship calls and the shed skins they leave stuck to the trees they feed on.  Cicadas spend most of their life cycle as larvae under the ground.  The most famous cicadas spend 17 years underground, emerging as adults in vast swarms before dying in 4-6 weeks.