Is a locust and a cicada the same thing?

Answered by Frank Schwing

A locust and a cicada are not the same thing. While both are winged insects and belong to the order Hemiptera, they are different in various ways.

1. Appearance: Cicadas have big, clear wings and a rounded body. They are usually larger in size compared to locusts. In contrast, locusts have a slim, straight body and also possess large hind legs specifically adapted for leaping.

2. Lifecycle: Cicadas have a relatively long lifecycle, often spending several years underground as nymphs before emerging as adults. They are known for their periodic emergence, with some species appearing in large numbers every 13 or 17 years. On the other hand, locusts do not have a long lifecycle. They go through incomplete metamorphosis, meaning they hatch from an egg into a nymph, which then develops into an adult without passing through a pupal stage.

3. Feeding Habits: Both cicadas and locusts are herbivorous, but they feed on different types of plants. Cicadas typically feed on tree sap, using their specialized mouthparts to pierce the bark and extract nutrients. They do not cause significant damage to plants. In contrast, locusts are known for their ability to form swarms and become highly destructive to crops. They feed on a wide range of plants, including grasses and agricultural crops, and can cause significant agricultural losses.

4. Sound Production: Cicadas are well-known for the loud and distinctive sound they produce, often described as a high-pitched buzzing or whining noise. The sound is produced by the males to attract females for mating. Locusts, on the other hand, do not produce the same type of sound as cicadas. They communicate through a different mechanism known as stridulation, where they rub body parts together to produce a buzzing or clicking sound.

While cicadas and locusts are both herbivorous winged insects and may share some similarities, they are different in terms of appearance, lifecycle, feeding habits, and sound production. Understanding these differences is important when identifying and studying these fascinating creatures.