Thursday, April 9, 2009


I hope you all know what cicadas are. Cicadas are noisy insects that normally make forests their home, but sometimes they occasionally foray into our homes, even in the cities.

They come in various shape and colours. The ones that normally frequent our homes are the black ones. They are quite big. Next in size is the green ones - I adore them for their singing and grace.

The smallest one that I have seen is those that live on durian and forest trees that I have mentioned before. They are just about 1-1.5 cm long, but their voice is the loudest and of the highest pitch!

They are riang-riang in Bahasa Melayu. I remember darting them on durian trees when I was in Kampung Gajah. The dart did not actually hurt them as it normally pierced their empty abdomen.

Also, strangely there are people out there who are scared of cicadas!

What I want to share with you all is their strange metamorphosis - life-cycle from eggs to adults.

After mating, the female lays her eggs inside a tree twigs. There the eggs hatch and after hatching the young cicadas (larvae) fall to the forest floor. They then dig hole in the ground searching for roots where they feed on.

Inside the ground they will stay for, believe it or not, as long as 17 years! Only after this long period that they emerge from the ground as nymphs.

The nymphs then will climb trees, shed their insect exoskeleton and become adults.

Their adults life is sadly very short - just for two weeks. That's why they make so much noise - just to attract members of opposite sex to breed and propagate their species.

1 comment:

Martin Lee said...


I was posted to China for 2 years and in Northern provinces of China, the Chinese rears cicada as delicacies on the tables. They eat them before the full metamorphosis could take place.

I do not know how they shorten the life cycles of the insects but I know the Chinese farmers would not be able to wait for 17 years to harvest them for the investment. I saw a documentary on this while I was still in China just 1 or 2 months back.