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Bladder cicada

Bladder cicada

Bladder cicada

Common name: bladder cicada

Scientific name: Cystosoma saundersii

Family: Cicadidae

Conservation status: The bladder cicada is a common species.

Description: The bladder cicada is a large cicada up to 5 cm long that is green in colour, and with leaf-like wings. The most distinctive feature of males is their large abdomen (from which they have gained the name ‘bladder’), which is hollow and acts as an echo-chamber to amplify their calls.

Habitat and distribution

Bladder cicadas range over north, central and south-east Queensland. They are often found in gardens on exotic trees and shrubs, hedges and lantana. Although they can be difficult to see because of their green colour, the old skins discarded by growing cicadas can sometimes be found on tree trunks.

Life history and behaviour

Cicadas have a unique life history. Female lay their eggs on branches, and once the nymphs (juveniles) emerge from the eggs they fall to the ground, burrow under the soil, and feed on the sap of tree roots. The nymphs can remain underground for several years where they go through a number of moults (discarding old skins) as they grow. Nymphs emerge from the soil in the early summer, and complete their final moult from which they emerge as adults.

Australia's more than 250 species of cicadas all make their distinctive calls the same way. They vibrate two drum-like membranes ('tymbals') on either side of the abdomen, and amplify the sound in a large cavity.

The large, hollow abdomen of male bladder cicadas helps them to produce a distinctive and deep, frog-like sound. Their calls last up to half-an-hour, and can be heard from dusk to early evening.

Listen

Listen to an audio clip of the bladder cicada (MP3 audio file, 75K)†.

† Requires an appropriate media player

Last reviewed
25 May 2016
Last updated
24 May 2011