Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Big Brown Bug Identified

What is it you ask ? No need to be so impatient I will tell you. The big brown bug is a "Dog-day cicada nymph" or Tibicen spp. for the entomologists among you.

According to Garden Insects of North America by Whitney Cranshaw (which arrived on my doorstep today), the dog-day cicada is the largest cicada in North America. They are commonly heard but less commonly seen, which I take to mean I was lucky that day in the garden.

The nymphs need 2 to 5 years to complete development. Once hatched from the egg the new nymph burrows underground near tree roots ( they sip on the sap from the roots) for several years while it develops and molts. Once it is fully developed the nymph returns topside and finds a place to sit (like a Culver's root plant). Then it undergoes its final molt and the adult cicada leaves the brown body casing through a slit in the back. 

Male cicadas rest on tree trunks and branches and "sing" to attract females, by means of two special vibrating membranes in the sides of the abdomen.  Females do not sing.  Adult cicadas do not feed on leaves, and may suck juices from tender twigs. They are not considered garden pests, unless you don't care for the singing.

Adult Dog-day cicada  - Photo from Hilton Pond Center

Here's the link to the original post.

9 comments:

  1. I will never forget a visit to Long Island, New York where there were so many cicada that the noise was deafening. I have never seen one up close and now I have!

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  2. A yucky bug, but as an adult, not so bad for looks anyway. Damaging I am guessing.

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  3. Some days in summer in certain places in Australia, the singing of the cicadas is deafening. It is the song of Summer!

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  4. It can get quite loud even out here in the suburbs. I always thought they sang when it was warm outside, but I think I am confused with June bugs.

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  5. Here in japan they like the sound and take cicatas as a sign of summer. I must admit I kind a like it, when I walk around the forest and hear them all sing they do have a bit of magic in them.

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  6. That is one large bug. We get a lot of cicadas in summer here in Australia but I don't think they are that huge.

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  8. Ah the melodic sounds of the cicada :-) No! Fortunately you get immune fairly quickly but for the first few days its like camping in a buzz saw factory! Happy memories of some sleep deprived nights in New Zealand %-)

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  9. I remember growing up in Wisconsin, we always knew it was officially hot when we'd hear that lone cicada singing. Now that I live in Texas, I wish we only had ONE cidada! Sometimes the cacophony of buzzing is maddening! It just never seems to end in the heat of summer. I find their "skins" all of the time in my garden.

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