Exuviae Variation Among Australian Cicadas

Over the course of the Australian 2022-2023 summer I did a little collecting. At the end of cicada season, March 2023, I went and grabbed as many shells (exuviae) as I could find from a few different areas.

The bulk majority were the same as this little one, Floury Baker (Aleeta curvicosta), named for the white markings. This particular cicada emerged during day, which is not normal for their species according to literature. More on her another time.

Being able to find an emerging cicada presents a great opportunity, acquire the cicada and the shell. Safety for the cicada during one of their most vulnerable periods and you get to observe the beginning of their final stage of life.

The shell third from the left is definitely a Floury Baker. The rest I’ll have to guess based on the species I was able to identify during summer. From left to right we have:
– Silver Princess (Yoyetta celis)
– Brown Bunyip (Tamasa tristigma)
– Floury Baker (Aleeta curvicosta)
– Black Prince (Psaltoda plaga) or Green Grocer (Cyclochila australasiae)

Over the entire summer I was able to hear Green Grocers but never came across one, which was a disappointment as they were the first cicada I came across as a child. I was able to find a few Black Princes though. I was surprised at how much chunkier they were than the Floury Bakers.

 

A new one that I had never come across before is the Brown Bunyip. I found a deceased one that looked to have either been pecked at or stepped on and a couple of live ones, out of reach but within sound range. And their call is not very pleasant, especially in chorus. They also have quite a bit of variation in their colours, not unlike the Green Grocer who is sometimes not green at all.

 

The next cicada season will start up in just under a month, we’ll see Silver Princess cicadas roaming the streets first, followed by the larger species. I look forward to their return! 🥰


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