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Adult Cicada Defenses

News Category: Cicadas 101

Adult Cicada Defenses

Adult cicada defenses

As an adult, Cicadas can rely on several defense mechanisms in order to aid in their survival.

Predator Foolhardiness - Unlike Periodical Cicadas which rely on predator foolhardiness to survive, Tibicen Cicadas are the exact opposite. The slightest sense of danger from a predator will send them flying off in a flash. If you happen upon a male, in some instances a brief alarm squawk may be heard just prior to it taking flight.

A Tibicen lyricen cicada with 2 of the three ocelli reflecting light.What is believed to help Tibicen Cicadas in detecting predators is their 3 ocelli that are centered in the middle of their head. Yes, Cicadas have 5 eyes. Two large compound eyes which are situated on stalks on either side of the head and 3 ocelli which are centered in a triangle in the middle of the head. It's these ocelli that detect changes in light and may give the Cicada a slight advantage over their predators. The image to the right clearly shows 2 of the three ocelli on this Tibicen lyricen Cicada picking up the light. (The two white dots in the middle of it's head.)

Playing Dead - While not seen in all species, the playing dead behavior is probaby a carry over from the nymph stage. As in the 5th Instar, an adult Cicada will lie very still as if playing dead with all six legs tucked ventrally against it's body if it feels threatened. The thumbnails below show the same Cicada playing dead as a nymph then exhibiting the same behavior over several days. The last thumbnail is a brief movie showing this behavior.

Alarm Squawk - When startled or handled, an adult male Tibicen Cicada will issue a loud squawk. It is believed that this alarm is designed to startle a predator into letting it go or dropping the Cicada. Unfortunately female Cicadas do not exhibit this behavior because they do not have the necessary organs for this function, namely tymbals. The thumbnail below launches a video of a male Tibicen auletes cicada's alarm squawk. This video was shot on Martha's Vineyard in 2006.

Date Posted: 2010-06-03 Comments: (5) Show CommentsHide Comments

Comments

Posted By: Andover | On: 2011-08-03 | Website:

I always thought that that meant they were dead by a cicada killer wasp or just dead. I've seen them fall from trees like that. Then there are the ants.

Posted By: Andover | On: 2011-08-03 | Website:

I always thought that that meant they were dead by a cicada killer wasp or just dead. I've seen them fall from trees like that. Then there are the ants.

Posted By: Tina | On: 2012-10-03 | Website: google

that's some alarm

Posted By: jason | On: 2013-05-17 | Website:

woooow the are scary

Posted By: Grady mcguyrt | On: 2016-06-02 | Website: Massic.org

Wow I did not know thAt i allways thought that they were dead

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