Cicadas @

Cicadas @

Purpose of this resource

Here you will find a gradually growing collection of articles with general information on cicadas, significant new research findings and a regular Cicada of the Month feature, all designed to promote public awareness of Australia's loudest and most acoustically complex insects.

Yellowbelly: the purring cicada

Cicada of the MonthPosted by Lindsay Popple Sun, February 01, 2015 14:40:15

By February in Australia, the peak of the cicada season has passed, but it is still summer and the cicadas still tend to hang on, particularly in coastal and tropical areas. One of those cicadas is Yellowbelly, which is the cicada of the month for February. Yellowbelly may be one of the smaller species in the genus Psaltoda, but it produces quite a loud and conspicuous calling song for its size. The call of an individual male sounds very much like a small power generator, with a definitive purring quality. Males may call continuously or in short bursts, with a characteristic ‘sigh’ at the end of each burst. When in large numbers, the call becomes a blur of noise, loud enough for people to take notice at times.
[A male Yellowbelly cicada, calling on a tree trunk]

Each year, the first adult Yellowbelly cicadas typically appear in late October. They can be present in big numbers anytime between late November and late February. Numbers usually drop dramatically during March with occasional survivors extending through to April. The species is found from north Queensland south along the coast and ranges to the south coast of New South Wales. They can be found in association with eucalypts in open forest, in heathland and shrubland. Populations generally require in-tact areas of bushland to persist, but they can also occur in adjacent parkland and sometimes in gardens. It is a prominent species in parts of Greater Brisbane and Greater Sydney, particularly in areas with soils derived from sandstone and granite.
[A female Yellowbelly cicada, showing its golden underside (hence the name)]

Like almost all larger cicadas, Yellowbelly adults tend to occur in localised aggregations in bushland areas. Like other species in the genus Psaltoda, calling males flex their abdomen freely to alter the tone and pitch of their song. The abdomen also expands quite noticeably during song production. The species has been called ‘Yellowbelly’ due to the rich, honey-like coloration of the underside. It can be distinguished from other similar species in the genus by the colour of the postclypeus (‘nose’) being predominantly black, in combination with clear wings.

Further information and a distribution map for this species can be found here and you can listen to its unique and unusual calling song here.

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