Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ontario Cicada - Homoptera: Cicadidae

Sitting and relaxing in my backyard after work, I heard the typical summer day call coming from the trees. Cicada's singing their summer song.

To some it's annoying, to me, it always reaffirms summers end and warm evenings in my garden space. The male Cicada's shrill, (as it's known) is quite loud and you usually only hear it on hot humid days like today.

Coincidentally, this fella (not sure if it's male or female) was sitting in my garden - tucked in and perched on my Vinca ground-cover.
A Cicada's life cycle is quite remarkable. Some species of Cicada live up to 17 years. This Ontario Cicada however, only lives 4-5 years. Most of their life is spent under ground. Once adults mate, the female lays her eggs in the twigs and small branches of trees. They make puncture holes in the tissue and bark of the tree, laying about 15-20 eggs at a time. Once the eggs hatch, the young nymphs fall to the ground and then dig down into the soil. Staying close to the trees roots, they make a casing - or cell like structure and feed by sucking the sap of the tree roots. This stage takes about 4 years until the nymphs are full grown. Once mature, they come out of the soil, crawl up a twiggy area of a trees trunk, or branch and fixate themselves tightly to begin their journey into the adult stage.

The Cicada's exoskeleton skin cracks down the backside of the full grown nymph Cicada and the adult emerges and squeezes through the old skin. Here I found its shed skin on the trunk of a Green Ash tree.

Close up.

Their size in relation to my hand.
Once their wings dry and harden, they begin to fly. Males sing to attract other females to start the whole process over again.

What a joy to be able to see and photograph one so close. It was a good sport and let me get right in its face. :)

A favourite food for birds, gardeners don't really have to worry about these guys. If their numbers were to over populate, sometimes their feeding and egg laying damage is noticeable. It's best to let birds and other animals have their fill of these amazing creatures.


  1. We were in Niagara Falls, ON from July 29-Aug. 21, 2014 & heard the cicadas. I kept wondering what the rushing sound was in the trees every so often, especially on the warmer days when there was a breeze. Finally I found someone who knew and since then I've been reading more about them. I had learned about them lon ago in school but never experienced their wonderful music. Amazing part of God's creation!


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