Week 16: Empress Cicada

What kind of insect is this? Where does it live?

What is unusual about its life cycle?

Empress Cicada

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Answers:

What kind of insect is this? Where does it live?

This is an Empress Cicada, Pomponi imperatoria, a large insect that lives in Southeast Asia. There are many varieties of cicada, almost all of which live in or near trees. Its body measures almost three inches long, and its wingspan is eight inches. The mating call of the cicada is very loud and distinctive.

What is unusual about its life cycle?

The female cicada lays her eggs in the bark of a tree, and when they hatch they fall to the ground, where the nymphs burrow up to eight feet into the earth. They stay underground for two to five years, or for some North American species, up to 17 years! They survive by feeding from tree roots. Once they emerge from underground, they seldom live longer than a few months.