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January 13, 2013

Tacua speciosa

Filed under: Tacua — Tags: — Dan @ 12:30 pm

The Tacua speciosa is a beautiful cicada native to Malaysia, Indonesia, Borneo, Sumatra, and other countries & islands in the Malay Archipelago. These cicadas are well know for their large size, brown nontranslucent wings, black body, striking yellow/chartreuse pronotal collar, red cruciform elevation and cyan tergites.

Tacua speciosa
Image credit: Alexey Yakovlev, Tacua speciosa (Cicadidae). Borneo. Trusmadi area. 2100 m, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Here is W.L. Distant’s description of this insect from A monograph of oriental Cicadidae:

Body above black ; eyes, anterior pronotal margin (narrowly), posterior margin of pronotum, posterior margin of the third, and the whole of the fourth, fifth and sixth abdominal segments, ochraceous ; basal cruciform elevation red, with its anterior angles black ; body beneath black ; lateral areas and margins to prosternum, a spot at lateral margins of third abdominal segment, and the lateral margins of the fourth, fifth and sixth abdominal segments, ochraceous.

Tegmina black, costal membrane and venation dull reddish, outer margin narrowly creamy-white wings black, the outer margin (excluding anal area) creamy-white.

Var. a. Tegmina and wings greyish-brown, the black coloration only observable at margins of the veins.

Long.excl.tegm. 47 to 57 millim. Exp.tegm.150 to 180 millim.


T. speciosa has a black body with a chartreuse marking on the head, a chartreuse pronotal collar, a red cruciform elevation, and a pale, but vibrant, turquoise-blue abdomen.


T. speciosa is one of the largest cicadas. Wikipedia has the body length at 55 mm (2.2 in), and wingspan at 120 mm (4.7 in). I think that wingspan measurement is a little conservative (but the body length seems right on based on the image below). Considering that tip to tip wingspan would be about 3x the body length (see this image for proportions) the max wingspan would be closer to 170 mm or 6.7 in, which puts it in the same league as the Pomponia imperatoria. That is more in line with W.L. Distant’s documentation.


Here is a video of a singing Tacua speciosa:

Another video of a singing T. speciosa:

Pop culture note: this species of cicada was features on the Wednesday January 16, 2013 episode of the Daily Show. It is not, however, a 17 year cicada. :) T. speciosa probably has a 2-7 year life cycle, and is not a periodical cicada, but it might be proto-periodical (but most likely is an annual species).

The only document specifically about the T. speciosa I’ve found is Boulard, M. 1994c. Tacua speciosa, variete decolorata n. var. (Homoptera, Cicadidae). Revue Française d’Entomologie. 16: 66. — however that document usually costs around $60, which I’m not ready to invest in.

At one point in time, the Tacua speciosa was one of the most illustrated cicadas:

Cigale remarquable (Cicada spe... Digital ID: 806458. New York Public Library
Original Source: From Dictionnaire universel d’histoire naturelle. (Paris : Renard, 1841-1849) Orbigny, Charles d’, Author.

1. Tacua speciosa, Indes; 2. P... Digital ID: 73746. New York Public Library
Illustration by Séguy, E. A.

Cicadæ, lantern fly, etc. Digital ID: 806322. New York Public Library
Original Source: From Animate creation : a popular edition of “Our living world” : a natural history. (New York : Selmar Hess, 1885) Wood, J. G. (John George) (1827-1889), Author.

Check out this gallery of Tacua speciosa cicadas, which includes great images like this one:

Tacua speciosa from Malaysia (peace)