Saturday, August 13, 2011

Look For It Now: Dogday Harvestfly

As high summer reaches its peak of heat and humidity, we are annually serenaded by the high-pitched whining song of the cicadas as they emerge from their nymphal exoskeletons and prepare for life as adults.

Here at VINS we have been listening to the song for weeks, and the other day were surprised to find this delightful creature sitting on the door to one of our outdoor bird enclosures!

This is a Dogday Harvestfly.
The name actually comes from the time of year they emerge: the dog days of summer. He has just emerged from the exoskeleton that protected him through the first three years of his life. He is still clinging to the exoskeleton in this picture, but a few hours later, once he adjusted to his new body, he spread his 3-1/4 inch wings and left the nymph behind.

Dogday Harvestflies, or Tibicen canicularis, are around every year here in the Northeast. Some other species of cicadas only emerge every 13 or 17 years! Now that this insect - who is a member of the homoptera family - has reached adulthood, he will only live long enough to mate and, if he is actually a she, lay eggs. Cicadas do all their feeding as nymphs, this species feeds on the juices from tree roots with a particular taste for pine, but now that this cicada is an adult there is no more root juice in his future.

1 comment:

  1. I love this critter's name. Interesting post, Lauren -- and great photo!

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