What do cicadas eat? All about their food

The diet of cicadas consists exclusively of tree sap.

Characteristics of cicadas

Cicadas are insects that measure between 16 and 60 mm long and have wings that allow them to fly. Their colors allow them to blend into their environment to escape their predators.

Diet, habitat and lifestyle of cicadas

Adult cicadas feed only on sap, thanks to their long head which allows them to pass through the bark of branches and reach the sap of the tree. Their young (the nymphs), on the other hand, grow underground and feed on the sap of the roots. They reach full development after two years and can live up to 17 years, depending on the species. They are found in temperate to tropical climates. The song emitted by males to attract females is well known. It is produced by a stridulatory apparatus located in the sides of the first abdominal segment, which has chitinous membranes called timpani and air sacs that serve as sound boxes. Each species emits its own characteristic sound.

Are cicadas damaging the ecosystem?

As cicadas feed exclusively on sap, it would be logical to think that, in one way or another, they are damaging the ecosystem. However, this is not the case, because the incision they make on the trees is tiny and poses no danger to the tree.

The cicadas look for the side of the tree facing the sun in order to take advantage of its heat while feeding and they turn with the light throughout the day, always guided by the song of the males. When a cicada makes an incision in a tree to extract the sap, many insects also try to take advantage of the liquid thus extracted: flies, wasps and especially ants seize this opportunity to obtain a little sap.