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Get your lovely fruit and veg!

November 17, 2013

SAMSUNGAlmost a year ago, a post (click HERE to view) described the sighting of many cicada exoskeletons hanging off the vegetation. Well, it is that time of the year again. Recently moulted was this Greengrocer Cicada (Cyclochila australasiae). The Greengrocer is the green form of this species. Other coloured forms include Yellow Monday (yellow), Chocolate Soldier (tan), Blue Moon (turquoise) and Red Warrior (red). The Yellow Monday cicada lacks the turquoise pigment that combines with the yellow to form green. Similarly, the Blue Moon cicada lacks the yellow pigment. This species inhabits the temperate and coastal regions of southern Queensland down to Victoria.

Adult Greengrocers live for only six weeks. They feed on the sap of plants and on summer evenings the males ‘sing’ to the females. Unique to this species, the sound is made by rubbing a scraper on the wing over ridges on the collar-shaped structure at the back of the head. The song can be extremely loud. In fact it is one of the loudest insect sounds in the world. After mating, the female deposits eggs into the branches of food plants. Four months later the nymphs hatch and burrow into the soil, emerging after seven years.

When I go to the Queen Vic market to buy fruit and veg I have to escape after a short while because of the incessant yelling by the vendors. Maybe loudness is a characteristic of greengrocers the world over, irrespective of species.

P.S. The three eyes in the centre of the forehead are called ocelli. They are thought to be very sensitive light receptors. As the insects pitch and roll in flight the ocelli detect minute changes in light level and thus help the insect maintain flight stability.

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