Posted by Lindsay Popple Sun, March 01, 2015 18:57:43
Cicadas are still quite noticeable in coastal subtropical and tropical climates during March, generally with only a few stragglers still remaining in more temperate areas. Notably, few species are still emerging this late in the season. Those few can include the last remnants of mature populations of Silver Knight/ Black Prince, which can persist well into autumn, the bunyips, bottle cicadas and the unusual hairy cicadas. In fact, Hairy cicadas often reach their highest levels of abundance at this time of year, but they are inconspicuous nocturnal cicadas that are restricted to cool temperate areas on the mainland and in Tasmania. In addition, sporadic, local emergences of grass cicadas occur in northern, central and western inland areas after early autumn rainfall.
[Male Alpine Hairy Cicada: at the height of its emergence in March]
On a late afternoon walk in Brisbane this past week, I was delighted to find a freshly emerged male Large Bottle Cicada calling beside a busy roadway. While I often hear them calling at dusk, they are usually widely scattered and often at height, which makes them difficult to observe at close quarters. This little guy, however, was quite obliging so I took him home for some photos before releasing him into a suitable tree outside, not far from wear I originally found him.
[Male Large Bottle Cicada: dorsal view]
Large Bottle Cicada occurs principally in association with (mainly lowland) rainforest areas in southeastern Queensland and northeastern New South Wales. Much of their habitat has been cleared for development; however they will also occur in garden plants, including exotic species that provide a similar microhabitat structure to rainforest vegetation. The individual that I found most recently was sitting in a Mock Orange, which has historically been a popular garden plant in Brisbane.
[Male Large Bottle Cicada: anterior view]
During the day, males occasionally produce a short clicking call like someone tapping on a glass bottle. As the day wanes, these call become more frequent. Then, by the onset of dusk, males burst into a continuous, kettle-like whistle. This last for about half an hour and finishes a little after the Bladder Cicada males begin calling on nightfall.
[Male Large Bottle Cicada: lateral view]
The greatly inflated abdomen of bottle cicada and bladder cicada species is a trait restricted to the male. Females look similar to females of other more typical cicadas, although they are also typically bright green. The swollen abdomen of the male enables the amplification of a loud, relatively pure tone song, which penetrates effectively through leafy rainforest habitats.
[Male Large Bottle Cicada: dorsolateral view]