Cicada  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The cicadas are a superfamily, the Cicadoidea, of insects in the order Hemiptera (true bugs). They are in the suborder Auchenorrhyncha,Template:Efn along with smaller jumping bugs such as leafhoppers and froghoppers. It is divided into the Tettigarctidae, with two species in Australia, and Cicadidae, with more than 1,300 species described from around the world; many undescribed species remain.

Cicadas have prominent eyes set wide apart, short antennae, and membranous front wings. They have an exceptionally loud song, produced not by stridulation but by vibrating drumlike tymbals rapidly. The earliest known fossil Cicadomorpha appeared in the Upper Permian period; extant species occur all around the world in temperate to tropical climates. They typically live in trees, feeding on sap, and laying their eggs in a slit in the bark. Most cicadas are cryptic, singing at night to avoid predators. The periodic cicadas spend most of their lives as underground nymphs, emerging only after 13 or 17 years, most likely to reduce losses by satiating their predators.

Cicadas have been featured in literature since the time of Homer's Iliad, and as motifs in art from the Chinese Shang dynasty. They have been used in myths and folklore to represent carefree living and immortality. Cicadas are eaten in various countries, including China where the nymphs are served deep-fried in Shandong cuisine.

In mythology and folklore

Cicada (mythology)

Cicadas have been used as money, in folk medicine, to forecast the weather, to provide song (in China), and in folklore and myths around the world. In France, the cicada represents the folklore of Provence and the Mediterranean cities.

The cicada has represented insouciance since classical antiquity. Jean de La Fontaine began his collection of fables Les fables de La Fontaine with the story La Cigale et la Fourmi (The Cicada and the Ant) based on one of Aesop's fables: in it the cicada spends the summer singing while the ant stores away food, and finds herself without food when the weather turns bitter.

The cicada symbolises rebirth and immortality in Chinese tradition. In the Chinese essay "Thirty-Six Stratagems", the phrase "to shed the golden cicada skin" (金蝉脱壳, pinyin: jīnchán tuōké) is the poetic name for using a decoy (leaving the exuviae) to fool enemies. In the Chinese classic novel Journey to the West (16th century), the protagonist Priest of Tang was named the Golden Cicada.

In Japan, the cicada is associated with the summer season. According to Lafcadio Hearn, the song of Meimuna opalifera, called "tsuku-tsuku boshi", is said to indicate the end of summer, and it is called so because of its particular call.

In an Ancient Greek myth, Tithonus eventually turns into a cicada after being granted immortality, but not eternal youth, by Zeus. The Greeks also used a cicada sitting on a harp as emblematic of music.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Cicada" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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