Creature of the Month – Cicada (Heuchys fusca)

Cicadas belong to the group of insects called homopterans. These are true bugs with long piercing and sucking mouthparts known as proboscies which they insert into plant stems to feed on the juices. It has prominent big eyes with well-developed wings that reveal their conspicuous viens. They are considered large size in the insect world and the males can produce unique loud sound. Cicadas are harmless to human under normal circumstances as they do not bite in true sense, but may mistake a person’s arm or other part of the body for a tree and attempt to feed. Bites can be painful if a cicada attempts to pierce a person’s skin, but they are unlikely to cause other harm. There are six known species of cicadas living in Singapore. Here is a Cicada that is most commonly found in our forest.

(A common Cicada)

(A common Cicada)

This species has dull colours that camouflaged very well against the tree bark and I often give them a miss. The more attractive species are the Black & Scarlet Cicada (Huechys sanguinea)

The Red Cicada

and the Golden Cicada known as Heuchys fusca.

(The Black and Golden Cicada)

(A recently emerged Black and Golden Cicada)

Heuchys fusca is uncommon and they have been recorded only in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Upper Peirce Forest & Zhenghua Forest. When just molted, its eyes and frons were an attractive, golden yellow colour (see above). But, in time, the frons would retain its rich yellow hue, whereas its eyes would become entirely black. It is always interesting to observe the moulting process of any insects. I was fortunate to witness the moulting of a Black & Golden Cicada in April 2013.

(The Molting)

(The Moulting of Heuchys fusca)

The whole moulting process took approximately one hour. When a Heuchys fusca just emerged from its shelf, it has a beautiful pure white wings.

IMG_4850

(White wings)

Slowly, the wings would turn smoky gray and eventually become matt, greyish-black.

(Matt, greyish wings)

(Matt, greyish-black wings)

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