What Do Cicadas Eat?

Category: Insects.

Are you curious to know about the eating habits and behavior of cicadas? Well, you have come to the right place because I will tell you guys what’s on their diet. Yes, a lot of people are curious about the stuff that is consumed by this small insect. I assume many of you will have insufficient information on this insect.

A cicada, Diceroprocta semicincta, feeds on a plant. Cicadas feed exclusively on plant xylem sap, an extremely dilute food source and have established symbiosis with bacteria to supplement their diet. © Adam Fleishman.

What is a Cicada?

I am sure many of you have heard the sound of this insect, maybe seen in woods and plants but not sure about its name. A cicada is a small insect belongs to a superfamily of Cicadoidea, having large eyes along with transparent wings. A lot of people consider them jungle flies, but they have completely different background. Below is precise info of this insect along with a brief history that will explain you a lot about cicadas and what they eat.

Why do we call them Cicadas?

Talking about its name, it has been derived from the Latin word Cicada which means tree cricket. So far, there is no proper English name for this insect. This insect can easily be located on all the continents of the world except for Antarctica, because they can’t survive in severe cold. Talking about their species and kind, there are almost 200 species in Australia, 400+ species in Africa, 100 species in Palaearctic and one species in the UK.

Different types of cicada life cycles

Going deeper into their species and history, this insect has three major life cycles such as:

  1. Annual
  2. Periodical
  3. Proto-Periodical

A cicada, platypleura capensis, feeding on the trunk of a birch sapling. © JonRichfield.

The annual cycle is a bit different from the other two cycles because these species appear every year. Example: swamp cicadas belong to the annual life cycle of this insect. The periodical cycle of this insect will emerge after 17 years and Magicicada septendecim is an example of it. Now, the last cycle of cicadas, known as the proto-periodical cycle usually emerge after one year or more. Okanagana is an example of it.

Their diet

Now, coming back to the question, what do cicadas eat? Well, they usually survive on the fluids of a tree. Usually, this term is also called sucking sap, or xylem of different species of trees like oak, ash, maple and many more. There is also a myth that the adult cicadas do not eat, which is not true. During the time when they are nymphs or larva, they survive by suckling the roots for 13 – 17 years underground. Naturalists have also revealed that these insects are also edible and they are very famous as a dish in different parts of the world.

Eating cicadas

Famous counties in which cicadas are used as a cooking diet are as follows: China, US, Congo, Burma and Latin America. They are roasted, deep fried and even used in pastries.

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