Annual Cicadas (Dog-Day Cicadas)

Annual Cicada (Molted Exoskeleton)

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In Missouri, cicadas in the genus Tibicen
Cicadidae (cicadas) in the order Hemiptera (true bugs)

Adults have black, green, or olive-patterned bodies, often with a whitish cast on the underside, black eyes, and 4 membranous wings with a black or green tinge. They crawl and fly but do not jump. The mouthparts, tucked beneath the head, are like a small, sharp straw. The antennae are short, and there are 3 ocelli (eyespots) in addition to the 2 larger, compound eyes. Compared to periodical (13- or 17-year) cicadas, annual cicadas are larger. Adult males have a sound-producing organ that emits a loud, raspy call used to attract females. Different species, such as the scissor grinder and buzz saw cicadas, have distinctively different types of calls and call at different times of day. Adult females have a curved ovipositor at the lower end of the abdomen, used to insert eggs into slits in twigs. Nymphs are tan or brown, wingless, stout, with the front pair of legs specialized for burrowing in soil and for clinging onto trees as they undergo their final molt into adults.

Length: to 2 inches.
Habitat and conservation: 
Most common in forested and wooded areas, parks, and forest borders, as eggs are laid in tree twigs and nymphs depend on tree roots for their nourishment. As winged adults, cicadas can fly anywhere, such as into nearby pastures and fields, but they rarely go far from the trees, from which males do most of their raspy calling and where the females lay their eggs.
Cicadas, like most true bugs, have sucking mouthparts like small, sharp straws. Cicada nymphs live underground, sucking from the roots of trees and other plants. Winged adults can suck plant juices, too, although they live for only a few weeks aboveground. It is very uncommon, but if you let a cicada sit quietly on your hand or arm for a long time, it may jab you with its mouth, mistaking you for a plant — painful, but a harmless accident, and certainly not an act of aggression or even defense.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Common throughout the state, but especially in areas where trees are abundant and land left relatively undisturbed for the few years it takes the nymphs to grow. Because the nymphs live underground, suck juices from plant roots, and then must crawl out of the ground, large earthworks, deforestation, insecticides, enormous paved parking lots, and residential and commercial developments can decrease populations locally.
Life cycle: 
Cicadas begin life as an egg laid in a slit of a tree twig. Upon hatching, the tiny nymph drops to the earth and burrows down, where it will live most of its life, sucking juices from plant roots. The nymphs of annual cicadas remain underground for 2–5 years. When ready, during the dog days of July and August, they claw to the surface, climb a tree or other object, and molt to become a winged adult. The shed skin remains behind, while the adults sing, mate, and produce the next generation.
Human connections: 
Though it may seem strange to us, people in many countries eat large, meaty cicadas regularly. Because of the predictable timing of their emergence in the dog days of summer, the first soundings of annual cicadas figure into folk wisdom, such as calculating the number of weeks to the first frost.
Ecosystem connections: 
Many species of birds, insects, spiders, and other animals feed on these large bugs. The deep incisions that female cicadas make in twigs of trees when they lay eggs can weaken and break those twigs, thus serving as a natural pruning process. The burrowing of nymphs aerates the soil.
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