William and the Redeye

You have to be pretty observant to spot Cicadas. Even when they are buzzing away merrily their superb camoflage makes them difficult to spot. Not for eagle-eyed insect ‘hunter’, William Bell, who found this magnificent Redeye Cicada Psaltoda moerens at the Newstead Community Garden last evening.

Redeye Cicada, Newstead, 16th December 2010

According to the Australian Museum … “Cicadas spend most of their life underground. It has been suggested that some of the large, common Australian species of cicada may live underground as nymphs for around 6-7 years. This would explain why adult cicadas are much more abundant during some seasons that others, with peaks occurring every few years. The periodical cicadas of North America spend 13 or 17 years underground.

In contrast to that of the nymph, the life of adult cicadas is very short, lasting only a few weeks. After mating, the adult female cicada lays its eggs. It does this by piercing plant stems with its ovipositor (egg-laying spike at the tip of the abdomen) and inserting the eggs into the slits it has made. The eggs hatch into small wingless cicadas which are known as nymphs. They fall to the ground and burrow below the surface. Here they live on the sap from plant roots for a period which may last several years. They shed their skin at intervals as they grow.

When the nymph reaches full size it digs its way to the surface with its front legs, which are specially adapted for digging. It generally surfaces about nightfall in late spring or early summer. The nymph then climbs on to a tree trunk or other object and sheds its skin for the last time. The fully-winged adult cicada which emerges leaves its old empty nymphal skin behind.”

For more on our local species read Andrew Skeoch’s wonderful post of 27th January this year.

One response to “William and the Redeye

  1. Hello! I found a dead redeye cicada two days ago – exquisite colours. The red eyes are very very ruby red in bright sunlight.
    I have a dead insect collection, and this beautifully intact cicada makes a great addition. And now it had been identified for me, thanks! Yay for this blog!

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