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June 26, 2015

How to tell if a Cicada is a Male or Female?

Filed under: Anatomy | FAQs | Identify — Dan @ 4:43 am

Here is how to tell the difference between a male cicada and a female cicada (for most species):

1) Only males sing. If the cicada is singing, it is a male.

2) Look at their abdomen. If it comes to a point and has an ovipositor, it is a female.

This is an image comparing the abdomens of male and female Magicicada cicadas.

A detail of the genitals of two species of Magicicada

This image compares a male and a female Neotibicen lyricen. Note the difference in the curvature of the 7th sternite, the shape & location of the tymbal covers of the male, and the valvulae & ovipositor of the female.

Male and female Neotibicen:
male and female cicadas compared

Also, if the cicada is laying eggs in the branch of a tree, that’s proof that it’s a female. Here is a video of that:

4 Comments »

  1. Ray George Iturralde says:

    What do cicadas feed on after emergence?
    Will males mate with more than one female?
    Will females mate with more than one male?
    How much longer do they live after mating?

    1. Dan says:

      > What do cicadas feed on after emergence?
      Mostly if not entirely their body fat. They only need to live a few weeks to a month. They do continue to drink sap, but I’m not sure if they receive much nutrition from it.
      > Will males mate with more than one female?
      Yes.
      > Will females mate with more than one male?
      Yes.
      > How much longer do they live after mating?
      Until their fat supplies run out.

  2. Lorie Opalanko says:

    We just recently saw many cicadas and some that were dying did not have part of their body. Are these the females after they have laid the egg? a few of the lets call them joints were missing and rest was hollow.

    1. Dan says:

      A lot of times birds or other predators yank their parts off, or their abdomen falls off due to a fungus infection.

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