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Replacement of Cockle Creek bridge

09/07/2014

Visitors to Cockle Creek in Tasmania's Far South are advised that the Cockle Creek bridge will be closed from approximately 14 July to the end of August 2014, while the old bridge is removed and a replacement bridge is constructed.More

Firewood theft can be costly

08/07/2014

The Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) is warning that unlawfully cutting trees for firewood on reserved land can be a costly exercise and that remote cameras are being used to catch offenders.More

Caretakers wanted for island's historic site

08/07/2014

Fancy spending a few weeks at the fascinating Quarantine Station on Bruny Island? The Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) and Wildcare Inc Friends of Bruny Island Quarantine Station are seeking volunteer caretakers for the station for the 2014/15 summer.More

Hairy Cicada

Hairy Cicada (Photo by Alex Dudley)
Cicadas are insects. They are classified in the order Hemiptera, which includes all insects with piercing and sucking mouth-parts. Other insects in this order include bugs, aphids and scale insects.

There are just under 2000 species of cicada in the world, with 220 species identified from Australia, and just 8 in Tasmania. Yet among the Tasmanian species is one of the most ancient and unusual of all cicadas - the hairy cicada.

A Life Underground

Cicadas spend most of their life underground (nymph stage), with some large Australian species living underground feeding on the sap within the roots of plants for 6-7 years. Some North American cicadas spend up to 17 years underground.

When the nymph reaches full size it digs its way to the surface and climbs on to a tree trunk or other object and sheds its skin for the last time. The fully-winged adult cicada which emerges leaves its old empty nymphal skin behind.

In contrast to that of the nymph, the life of adult cicadas is very short, lasting only a few weeks. After mating, the adult female cicada lays its eggs by piercing plant stems with its ovipositor (egg-laying spike at the tip of the abdomen) and inserting the eggs into the slits it has made. The small, wingless nymphs that hatch fall to the ground and burrow below the surface, shedding their skin at intervals as they grow.

Tasmania's Ancient Cicada

Almost all cicadas belong to the one large Cicadidae family. The hairy cicadas, however, belong to the primitive cicada family Tettigarctidae, which consists of only two species.

The hairy cicada that occurs in Tasmania, Tettigarctia tomentosa, is endemic to the island, while T. crinita is found in the alpine regions of south-eastern New South Wales and Victoria. The habitat of the hairy cicada includes temperate rainforest, wet sclerophyll forest and subalpine snow gum woodland.

The hairy cicadas differ from true cicadas in features of the wing venation and head structure. They can also be distinguished by having eyes that are closer together than their individual diameter, as the above photo shows.

In contrast to other cicadas, which are notorious for their loud, piercing calls which can exceed 120 dB, hairy cicadas have greatly reduced sound producing organs and are incapable of producing audible song. It is believed that hairy cicadas communicate through the substrate. Both males and females communicate through the vibrations of a drum-like structure called a tymbal. This vibration is transmitted through the substrate below the adult and are detected by the sensory structures called empodia on all legs. This adaptation is not present in the Cicadidae.

Unlike other cicadas, adult hairy cicadas are active during the colder months of the year. The species has unique adaptations to the colder climate, such as the hairs that give the species its common name, and its dark colouration.