Reports by FLAAR Mesoamerica
on Flora & Fauna of Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo
Peten, and Livingston, Guatemala, Central America

Bibliography on Cicadidae (Cicadas or Chicharras)

What are Cicadas?

Cicadas are insects belonging to the Cicadoidea family of the order Hemiptera - the same order that bedbugs belong to, believe it or not - and there are more than 3,000 species. You can recognize them by their long transparent membranous wings and their colors that are generally brown, green, black or grayish, with mottled coloration patterns, but there are always exceptions like everything in nature. Its body is robust and on its head, in the middle of its eyes you can see 3 points that form a triangle called ocelli or simple eyes, these are primitive visual organs, present in many insects that allow them to capture light and shadow through photosensitive cells.

Life cycle

Cicadas are also known to remain buried for many years, although this does not occur in all species. Their life cycle begins when the female lays small eggs in grooves that she makes in the branches of trees, which serve as shelter and provide fluids to feed the juveniles when they hatch. When they are born they look like termites or small white ants, and when they grow a little more, they fall to the ground to dig and find roots on which to feed. They begin to dig tunnels and bury themselves to continue feeding on the roots of the trees and remain in this dynamic for up to 17 years and, why so long? Some hypotheses suggest that it is a defense measure against predators to favor the survival of the species. During this process, they continue in their juvenile stage, also called “nymphs”, but once they emerge again from the ground they begin to shed their exoskeleton -or skin-, their wings inflate and their skin hardens, now they are ready to begin their short adult life.

The Cicadas' song

Once they are in their adult stage, Cicadas stay in the trunks and treetops to find a partner and mate, for this, the males emit the unique sound that we already know and is called stridulation, which is also produced by crickets and other insects. According to Bauer, P. (n.d.) “each male Cicada has a pair of circular ridged membranes on the back and side surface of the first abdominal segment. Contraction of the tymbal muscle attached to the membrane causes it to bend, producing a clicking sound. The tymbal springs back when the muscle is relaxed. The frequency of the contractions of the tymbal muscle range from 120 to 480 times a second, which is fast enough to make it sound continuous to the human ear.” Males produce an almost permanent sound between March and April. (Yoshimoto, Cano & Orelllana, 2015).

What is most amazing about the noisy calling of Cicadas is that each species has its own distinctive song that only attracts females of its own kind. This allows several different species to coexist (Valdes, n.d.). So the next time you listen to Cicadas, pay attention because you won’t always listen to the same song twice.


Chicharra - Order: Hemiptera - Family: Cicadidae. Grupo Maler, Parque Nacional Yaxha. June 30, 2021. Photography: David Arrivillaga. Photo taken with a Sony A7R IV camera, Sony E 30mm F3.5 Macro lens, 1/125 sec, f/9, ISO 1600


Sony A7R IV camera,Sony E 30mm F3.5 Macro lens, 1/100 sec, f/10, ISO 1600


PDF, Articles, Books on Cicadidae in Guatemala, Mexico and Central America

  • 2000
  • Primer inventario de la biodiversidad entomológica relacionado a las asociaciones vegetales en la región semiárida del nororiente de Guatemala. Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala. Facultad de Agronomía. Instituto de Investigaciones Agronómicas – IIA-.

    Downloadable Online:


  • MAES, J. M., MOULDS, M. and A. SANBORN
  • 2012
  • Cicadidae (Homoptera) de Nicaragua: Catalogo ilustrado, incluyendo especies exóticas del Museo Entomológico de Leon. Rev. Nica. Ent., 72, Suplemento 2, 138 pp.

    Downloadable Online:



  • MOULDS, M. S.
  • 2018
  • Cicada fossils (Cicadoidea: Tettigarctidae and Cicadidae) with a review of the named fossilised Cicadidae. Zootaxa, Vol. 4438, Issue 3, pages 443-470.

    Downloadable Online:






  • SANBORN, A. F. and J. M. MAES
  • 2012
  • Checklist of the cicadas (Insecta: Hemiptera: Cicadidae) of Nicaragua including new records for seventeen species. Check List Vol. 8, No. 3, pags 437-442.

    Downloadable Online:



  • SANBORN, A. F.
  • 2014
  • Checklist of the cicadas (Insecta: Hemiptera: Cicadidae) of Costa Rica including new records for fourteen species. Check List Vol 10, No. 2.

    Available Online:



  • 2017
  • The Cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadoidea: Cicadidae) of North America North of Mexico. Entomological Society of America.




  • 2015
  • Guía de identificación de insectos. Pro Natura Foundation Japan, Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, Museo de Historia Natural de la Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala.


  • 2018
  • Insectos de importancia agrícolas. Guía básica de entomología. Costa Rica y Centroamérica. Programa Nacional de Agricultura Orgánica (PNAO). 204 pp.

    Downloadable Online:


Suggested web pages with photos and information on Cicadidae in Guatemala, Mexico and Central America
Why Cicadas so noisy?
All about Cicadas, information, photos, species with its descriptions and sounds
Information and photos
Information and species list
When the Cicadas sing



First posted, August 2021.
Bibliography and article prepared by Vivian Hurtado, FLAAR Mesoamerica.

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