Cicadas are insects in the Order Hemiptera (True Bugs). Cicadas are well known for their long life cycle. Female cicadas lay their eggs in slits within the bark of trees. After hatching the young nymphs fall to the ground and burrow in to the soil. The nymphs have piercing mouthparts and they pierce roots and feed on plant fluids flowing within the roots.

In most species the cicada nymphs will remain underground for two to five years before emerging and moulting to become adults. However, some North American species have broods that stay underground for 13 to 17 years. It is thought that this long life cycle might be a form of predator avoidance as it is difficult for shorter lived predators to time their life cycles to feed on the cicadas.

Each species of cicada has a distinctive song. The song is produced by using muscle to deform a structure, known as a tymbal, in the abdomen of the insect producing a click. The muscle tension is then released producing another click. This process is repeated rapidly and can be used to produce a very loud call.

A photograph of an adult Adriatic cicada (_Melampsalta montana_).

A photograph of an adult Adriatic cicada (Melampsalta montana).
Photograph by Honza Beran licensed under Creative Commons.

Other names for (or types of) Cicada include:

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