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Bush Cicada (Tibicen dorsata)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Bush Cicada

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The flashy coloring and huge size of Bush Cicadas are overshadowed only by the deafening chorus they create every summer.

Updated: 01/02/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Bush Cicadas are also known as Grand Western Cicadas. They are generally found in states that make up the Central Plains and the Southwest. These large, flying insects are harmless to people. Wings are golden yellow and long. The head and body are brown and golden yellow. The thorax has a yellow 'W' on the top of it and white diagonal lines along the side. White spots run down the 'spine' and side edges of the abdomen. Eyes are large and spaced far apart. Strong legs are brown with a remarkable ability to cling to things. Adults do not feed; instead they focus all their remaining energy on reproduction. They can be found in trees, on bushes, or clutching blades of grass while calling out to others. This species of annual cicada forms huge populations that can be heard all summer long.

The males call to females in a loud buzzing drone that gradually tapers off, only to start up again a few moments later. After mating, females lay fertilized eggs on leaves that eventually fall to the ground. Larval Bush Cicadas dig underground after hatching and feed on the juices of tree roots. They molt into winged adults, leaving behind crunchy brown 'shells' of their previous bodies that can be found clinging to tree trunks, fences, and window screens. These 'shells' so closely resemble the living insect, they are often mistaken for dead ones.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hemiptera
        Family: Cicadidae
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          Genus: Tibicen
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            Species: dorsata

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Tibicen dorsata
Other Name(s): Grand Western Cicada, Harvestfly
Category: Cicada and Planthopper
Size (Adult; Length): 35mm to 57mm (1.37" to 2.24")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: yellow; brown; white; gold; black
Descriptors: flying; buzzing; multicolored; gold

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 35mm (1.4in) and 57mm (2.2in)
Lo: 35mm
Md: 46mm
Hi: 57mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Bush Cicada may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Bush Cicada. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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