Yang, Louie H. Section of Evolution and Ecology, University of California, Davis, California.
Last reviewed:June 2016
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- Annual cicadas
- Ecology of periodical cicadas
- Enrichment of belowground forest communities
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A large homopteran insect of the superfamily Cicadoidea generally having long transparent wings and with the male typically producing a loud, droning noise. Cicadas are a large and diverse group of insects belonging to the superfamily Cicadoidea (suborder Auchenorrhyncha) in the order Hemiptera (class Insecta, phylum Arthropoda). There are two families: Cicadidae (with more than 1300 species globally distributed) and Tettigarctidae (with 2 species found in Australia). Most cicadas have a distinctive body form, with two pairs of wings, widely offset compound eyes on each side of the head, and three simple eyes (ocelli) on top of the head (Fig. 1). They are generally large insects, ranging from 12 to 50 mm (0.5 to 2 in.). At rest, the wings are held along the sides of the body, and they generally extend beyond the abdomen without overlapping. Cicadas may be brightly or cryptically colored, and they often have transparent wings. In many species, males produce distinctive sounds with specialized tymbal organs located on the abdomen. All cicadas are plant feeders with piercing mouthparts. Cicadas show especially high diversity in tropical regions. See also: Hemiptera; Insecta; Photoreception; Zoogeography
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