Greengrocer or Yellow Monday Cicada
- Colour: green body and legs often fading to yellow (Greengrocer variety), or yellow-brown body and legs (Yellow Monday variety).
- A stout body with two pairs of transparent wings that are strengthened with veins. Its antennae are small and bristle-like.
- Size: 11 – 13 cm (wingspan).
- Call: continuous or a series of short bursts produced by the male to attract a female, and only when the temperature is over about 19°C. It is usually made at dusk but can also be heard in the morning on warm days, or continuously on hot days. Males often call in groups to increase the noise level and also make it more difficult for a hungry bird to locate an individual. It can be extremely loud when a large group calls together!
- Diet: sap from a range of plants, including eucalypts and grasses. The cicada pierces the surface of plants with its mouth to suck out the sap.
- Movement: usually feeding during the day.
- Breeding: mating occurs from late spring to early summer. The female then cuts small slits in the branches of a plant, into which she lays her eggs. After about four months the eggs hatch into nymphs, drop to the ground and burrow into the soil where they feed on sap in the roots of plants. They remain underground for six or seven years until fully grown, then emerge as adults on warm nights, usually after rain, between September and November. They climb up trees and shed their complete brown shells before flying off to find mates. After so long underground, they live for only about six weeks.
What to Observe
- Presence (to establish the first and last sighting for the season)
- Synchronised emergence
ClimateWatch Science Advisor
Many insects regulate their life cycle stages by measuring day length. However, cicada nymphs, which live underground for a number of years, cannot use this stimulus. It has been suggested that they could use the annual growth rhythms of the trees on whose sap they feed, but no direct evidence for this has been found. The size of cicada groups can be substantially different so the number of cicadas heard can vary from year to year.
When To Look
- From September through to January.
- Adults emerge between September and November and die about six weeks later.
- Mating occurs from late September to early January.
- Listen for them at dusk.
Where To Look
- From Queensland to Victoria in inland New South Wales and coastal regions, and also in south-east South Australia.
- On a range of trees that could be in your backyard, parks, forests, school yard and built up urban areas.
- Look on trunks and branches of trees. Follow the noise!
Moulds, MS 1990. Australian Cicadas. New South Wales University Press, Kensington, NSW.
Zborowski P and Storey R 1995. A field guide to insects in Australia. Reed Books Australia, Chatswood, New South Wales.
Bladder Cicada: doesn't have transparent wings and its bladder on its underside is enlarged.
Did You Know?
Cicadas are the loudest insects in the world! They can sometimes be loud enough (120 decibels) to be painful to the human ear.
There are more than 200 species of cicadas in Australia.