Difference Between Locust and Cicada

By: | Updated: Jul-19, 2021

Are you planning to go for a picnic or picnic with your friends outdoors? Locusts and Cicadas are very common in many parts of the world. They are even used as food in many countries. But, in spite of the fact that they are very similar to each other, they have some major differences between them. If you want to know what these differences are, read this article and find out.

Insects like Cicadas and Locusts look alike but they are totally different creatures. Locusts are a type of grasshopper that are known for their large size, while Cicadas have the appearance of bees. They have two antennae that are often found at the end of their bodies and other parts. Locusts are commonly found in the areas surrounding deserts, and they feed on vegetation, such as grass, bushes, or trees. Cicadas prefer to eat nectar which is a sweet liquid that is found in flowers.

Summary Table

Locust Cicada
Known as swarming insects Known as singing insects
Mainly live in grasslands or other semi-arid regions where they can be found in vast numbers during certain seasons Mostly live in trees where they can be found only during the summer months
The nymphs have wings but cannot fly until they are fully grown. At this stage they are called ‘hoppers’. Cicadas do not have a special name for these stages – just ‘nymph’ and ‘adult’.

Definitions:

Difference Between Locust and Cicada

In this article, we will discuss the difference between Locusts and Cicadas. We will also talk about the behavior and habits of these insects. At the end of the article, you will know more about these insects by reading this article.

Before we move on to the difference between locusts and cicadas, let us first learn what the two species of insects are. Let’s take a look at the similarities, the definitions, and features of both.

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What is a locust?

A locust is a type of grasshopper that lives in large groups and forms swarms. They are usually brown or black in color and have long hind legs. They do not have wings and can fly only when they get very agitated. Their body is stout and their antennae are club-shaped.

What is a cicada?

Cicadas are large, wingless insects belonging to the order Hemiptera, which includes aphids, leafhoppers, planthoppers, leaf beetles, shield bugs, flower bugs, cicadas and others. The name “cicada” comes from the Latin word “ciconia,” which means “loud-voiced.” Cicadas can be distinguished from other members of the order by their relatively large size (about 1/3 inch), distinctive shape (shallow conical shape) and wingless abdomen. Most species make a high-pitched chirping sound during courtship or mating behavior. The male has wings but no flight ability; he hangs upside down from a tree branch or shrub during mating to allow the female to approach him. The male emits pheromones that attract females through his song and then follows her as she lays her eggs in the soil. Cicadas are generally small, less than 1/2 inch long, and have narrow wings. The abdomen is not visible in many species; it is tucked under the thorax or hidden within the abdominal segments. The eyes are large and round and most species have a pair of antennae.

What are the similarities between locust and cicada?

The following are the similarities between locust and cicada:

  1. They are both classified as insects.
  2. They are small, but strong.
  3. Both of them have 4 wings that are transparent and usually yellow or brown in color.
  4. They can grow up to be up to 4 inches long and 0.5 inches wide, depending on the species of locust and cicada respectively.
  5. They are pests in many parts of the world like China, South America, Africa, India, Pakistan etc., where they cause huge damage to crops and affect their growth.
  6. They are part of the order Orthoptera, which also includes grasshoppers, crickets, katydids, and stick insects.
  7. They are not known to bite or sting humans.
  8. They have 3 types of mouth parts: 1st is a proboscis for sucking up nectar and juices from plants; 2nd is a labium that helps in chewing; 3rd is a maxilliped that helps in feeding themselves from plant leaves.
  9. The females lay eggs on the ground, while the males do not lay eggs at all.
  10. They do not fly, but hop or walk in search of food.
  11. They are usually found in swarms.
  12. They can be attracted to lights like candles and torches, especially during the night when they are searching for food.

What are the differences between locusts and cicadas?

Now that we know the similarities between locusts and cicadas, let’s now learn the differences between them.

  1. The Characteristics of Locust and Cicada

The first difference between locusts and cicadas is that locusts are known as swarming insects, while cicadas are known as singing insects. The name ‘locust’ comes from the Latin word ‘locusta’, which means large grasshopper.

Locusts have huge appetites, feed on a wide variety of plants, and can devastate crops in a short period of time. Cicadas are named after the sound they make – the name cicada means ‘twenty-three’. The life cycle of cicadas begins with eggs laid in tree holes by females and hatch after several weeks. Males fly around looking for females, but most females choose to lay their eggs in tree holes. The males then die after mating with many females at once.

  1. Habitat of Locust and Cicada

The second difference between locusts and cicadas is that locusts mainly live in grasslands or other semi-arid regions where they can be found in vast numbers during certain seasons, while cicadas mostly live in trees where they can be found only during the summer months. However, it’s not rare to find cicadas in houses and yards during the summer months.

  1. Locust and Cicada Feeding Habits

The third difference between locusts and cicadas is that locusts eat a wide variety of plants, but mostly feed on grains and other crops such as wheat, corn, rice, millet, barley, sorghum, and soybeans. The life cycle of locusts begins with the females laying eggs in trees or other vegetation. When the eggs hatch into nymphs, they look like smaller versions of adults. The nymphs have wings but cannot fly until they are fully grown. At this stage they are called ‘hoppers’. The hoppers feed on grasses or other plants for about three weeks before they turn into adults that have wings and are ready to fly away from their breeding grounds. In order to reproduce faster, the adult locusts must eat as much as possible so that more eggs can be laid. They don’t drink water because their skin is too thick to absorb moisture from the atmosphere.

The cicadas do not have a special name for these stages – just ‘nymph’ and ‘adult’. After mating occurs during the summer months in trees, females lay eggs in tree holes. The eggs hatch after about two weeks, and the nymphs turn into adults.

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