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October 11, 2018

Tacua speciosa

The Tacua speciosa is a beautiful cicada native to the countries Malaysia & Indonesia, and the islands Borneo & Sumatra, and likely other islands and nations of the area. Tacua speciosa are well known for their large size, opaque wings, black body, striking yellow/chartreuse pronotal collar, red cruciform elevation, and cyan or yellow tergites. There are two subspecies.

The name speciosa comes from the Latin word “specios” which means beautiful or showy.

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.

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

Tacua speciosa from Malaysia (peace)

Scientific classification:
Family: Cicadidae
SubFamily: Cicadinae
Tribe: Tacuini
Genera: Tacua
Species: Tacua speciosa
SubSpecies: Tacua speciosa decolorata Boulard, 1994
SubSpecies: Tacua speciosa speciosa (Illiger, 1800)

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, coastal 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.

Two Distinct Types:

This image comes from A Monograph of Oriental Cicadas by W. L. Distant. 1889-1892.
Tacua speciosa
Which is which in the photos and illustrations on this page? Can you tell?

Normal form (#9 in the image): “Tegmina [forewings] black, coastal membrane and venation dull reddish, outer margin narrowly creamy-white wings black, the outer margin (excluding anal area) creamy-white.”

Variety A (#10 in the image) “Tegmina and wings are greying-brown, the black coloration only observable around the veins.”

Size:

T. speciosa is one of the largest cicadas. According to the Distant’s description above — tegm.[forewings] 150 to 180 millim. That’s 5.9 to 7.1 inches. According to my own collection (I have 2). The male is 160mm (6.3″), and the female is 142mm (5.7″). Both are smaller than the Megapomponia and largest Tosena in my collection. T. speciosa cicadas are big, but not the biggest.

Song:

A video of a singing T. speciosa:

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 (I’ll spend the money on cicadas).

When and Where

The iNaturalist page for Tacua speciosa shows sightings on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo, and the Malay Peninsula.

Peak times are March-April.

Illustrations

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


Original Source: From Dictionnaire universel d’histoire naturelle. (Paris: Renard, 1841-1849) Orbigny, Charles d’, Author.


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.

An Illustration of Tacua speciosa from Genera Insectorum, 1913:

An illustration of Tacua speciosa from An epitome of the natural history of the insects of India : and the islands in the Indian seas by Edward Donovan:
. Note that one of its older names was Cicada indica!

Pop Culture

Pop culture note: this species of cicada was featured 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 lifecycle and is not a periodical cicada, but it might be proto-periodical (but most likely is an annual species).

September 30, 2016

A New Tribe for the Hammer-Head Cicada

Filed under: Cicadmalleus,Michel Boulard,Stéphane Puissant — Dan @ 4:28 am

A new paper by Michel Boulard & Stéphane Puissant has been released that describes Cicadmalleus micheli, aka the Hammmer-Head cicada of Thailand. As the name of the cicada suggests, the cicada’s head resembles a hammer. The cicada gets a new Tribe as well: Cicadmalleini.

Document details:

Boulard M, Puissant S. Description du mâle de la Cigale-marteau, Cicadmalleus micheli Boulard & Puissant, 2013, et position systématique de l’espèce (Hemiptera, Cicadoidea, Cicadidae). Bulletin de la Société entomologique de France, 121 (3), 2016 : 313-321.

Links:

January 21, 2014

The Hammerhead Cicada – A new discovery!

Filed under: Cicadmalleus,Michel Boulard — Dan @ 4:15 pm

It looks like a new sub-tribe, genus and species of cicada has been identified by Michel Boulard and Stéphane Puissant. Cicadmalleus micheli. The cicada has a head that looks like the head of a hammerhead shark! Cicadmalleus means “cicada hammer”, and micheli refers to Bruno Michel who found the cicada (thanks David Emery).

I heard the cicada was discovered in Thailand, which makes sense because that is where Michael Boulard does most of his research.

September 30, 2013

Cicadas of Thailand Volume 2: Taxonomy and Sonic Ethology by Michel Boulard

Filed under: Books,Michel Boulard,Thailand — Dan @ 7:07 am

Cicadas of Thailand Volume 2: Taxonomy and Sonic Ethology by Michel Boulard is available now via Siri Scientific Press.

Cicadas of Thailand Volume 1 was a great resource for the cicadas of Thailand and South-East Asia in general (many Asian species are not endemic, so you’ll find them in many countries). I imagine that Volume 2 will be just as amazing.

Cicadas of Thailand 2

A comprehensive 436 page volume from the leading world expert representing 13 years of work on taxonomy (including several newly described species) and sonic ethology, with supporting audio tracks

I ordered a copy already.

Here’s his first book Cicadas of Thailand: General and Particular Characteristics. Volume 1:

The Cicadas of Thailand by Michel Boulard

January 20, 2013

The Cicadas of Thailand, Vol.2. Coming Soon?

Filed under: Books,Michel Boulard,Thailand — Dan @ 3:42 pm

It looks like there’s a new The Cicadas of Thailand book out (or coming out soon).

ISBN 978-974-480-165-4
WL Order Code 22 645
Bangkok 2011
Boulard, Michel; The Cicadas of Thailand, Vol.2. Taxonomy and Sonic Ethology
White Lotus Press

Looks like it will be for sale here.

Cicadas of Thailand 2