Cicadas

Australian Museum, Sydney

Cicadas form a small part of the order Homoptera, a diverse group of insects whose mouthparts comprise a jointed rostrum for piercing and sucking up liquid food. They make up the superfamily Cicadoidea, distinguished by having three ocelli, an antennal flagellum usually of five segments, and a complete tenorium (internal development of the head for attachment of muscles); nymphs burrow and develop underground. The family arrangement for cicadas remains in a state of flux but is now generally accepted as being two families, the majority falling within the Cicadidae, and just two extant species plus some fossil species in the Tettigarctidae. There are almost 2000 named species, with perhaps as many again awaiting description.

Cicadas are mostly tropical or subtropical insects, but many also inhabit temperate regions. Some are minor pests of sugarcane, rice, coffee, and fruit trees, either reducing the vigor of the plants by nymphal feeding or weakening branches by oviposition, which in turn may cause the branches to break under crop load.

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