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Cicada (Neotibicen spp.)

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

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Image Credit: Joe V. from AR
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The loud roar of Cicadas in the trees can reach screeching levels heard all day and into dusk.

Updated: 09/29/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Cicadas are large, flying insects that look intimidating, but they are not interested in people and spend their adult lives focusing only on reproduction. Their large numbers and habit of congregating on window screens, cars, driveways, fences, and tree trunks can make them a nuisance, but they cannot bite or sting.

Cicadas are known for the loud noise they make all day and into the night. Males call out to females and the volume can reach remarkable levels. The waves of sound create background noise all summer. Populations of cicadas are enormous in order to ensure reproduction happens. Cicadas are food for a variety of birds, small mammals, and other insects. Dogs may even occasionally taste one. Because they are a sought-after nutritious snack, they reproduce in astounding numbers to allow some adults to survive long enough to mate.

Females lay eggs in branches, which drop to the ground allowing the larvae to burrow underground for the winter. Some cicada species return every year, others stay underground for years or decades before emerging to molt into adult form. As adults grow larger, they leave behind brown, crunchy shells of exoskeleton. It is common to find these empty shells clinging to walls, grass, or other objects.

Listen for cicadas in the hottest part of a summer day, and enjoy the white noise they create at night. This beneficial insect feeds the masses all season long, and calls many people to enjoy a warm, leisurely day, sipping lemonade in the shade.©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: Neotibicen
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            Species: spp.

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Neotibicen spp.
Category: Cicada and Planthopper
Size (Adult; Length): 25mm to 55mm (0.98" to 2.16")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; green; gold; brown
Descriptors: big; chunky; cling; flying; buzz; loud; all over; window screen; shell; neon green wings; gold

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 25mm (1.0in) and 55mm (2.2in)
Lo: 25mm
Md: 40mm
Hi: 55mm

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 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 Cicada. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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