Mating Cicadas

2020 November 1

I found these cicadas on August 21, 2019[1], on the sidewalk next to the Chemical Sciences building on campus. At first I thought they were dead, but it turns out that they were just too occupied with what they were doing to pay any attention to me.


These are Dog Day Cicadas, Tibicen canicularis, which I have photographed a few times before, but never while they were in the act of mating.


It’s a little hard to tell which is the male and which is the female. I can’t see an ovipositor on either of them, and apparently the male genitalia is stowed away out of sight when not mating, so I can’t really compare with my previous pictures.


My best guess is that the one on the right in that last picture, laying on its back, is the female. It is really weird that I can’t see the ovipositor, though, it was pretty evident on earlier specimens, like this one that I photographed back in 2012.


One would think that such a prominent feature would be visible on these current specimens. It is a puzzlement[2].

Anyway I left them alone, and presumably they finished their business and flew off (assuming that a bird didn’t spot them and have a snack after I left).

[1] I took these pictures with my Cat S61 phone. Between having three cameras in routine use that I download pictures from (the phone, the digital SLR, and the ruggedized pocket camera) and having to change to a new computer in March, my pictures have gotten a bit disorganized and misplaced. And so I’m trying to get things sorted out. Which is why this is over a year old.

[2] It occurs to me that it is just barely possible that they are both males. Which would certainly explain not seeing an ovipositor. But do cicadas do that? One wonders.

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