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Nymph Defense Mechanisms

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Nymph Defense Mechanisms

T. canicularis nymph playing dead

Realistically one can say that a Cicada nymph has no defense mechanisms to speak of. However, I have noted some unusual behaviors in Cicada nymphs that can be characterized as weak defenses at best. Some of these defenses even carry over into adulthood. Read below:

Tibicen Lyricen Wing Buds.Wing Bud Flick - When handling a Cicada nymph, many times I have noticed that a nymph will flick it's wing buds when handled. This is really noticable particularly when you grasp the Cicada nymph with your thumb and index finger over each wing bud. This behavior is also carried over into full adulthood when handling an adult Cicada in the same manner.

A Tibicen canicularis nymph playing dead.Playing Dead - A behavior noted in many insect species. If you're dead, you're really not much interest to a predator. When handled a Cicada nymph may play dead by tucking it's legs ventrally against it's abdomen and may stay in this position for several minutes. This behavior can be seen occassionally into adulthood.

A Long Molt Process - While probably not a true defense mechanism, the molt process for a Cicada is a slow and lengthy one. This process averages 1.5 hours or more. During this time, there is virtually no movement from the Cicada and if you are not looking for them, chances are the Cicada will go un-noticed. While Cicadas molt, they look like a normal piece of flora on whatever they are attached to and are easily missed by birds and other predators. During my observations of Cicadas I have yet to notice, with the exception of ants (and these were due to the Cicada being stuck in it's shell mid-molt), any predators spotting a Cicada during this process.

Date Posted: 2010-06-02 Comments: (0) Show CommentsHide Comments


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