By Josie  January 13t,h 2023

A Detailed Comparison:

Keep reading to learn how to distinguish between the two

Today we’ll be discussing two creatures belonging to the insect family: cicada vs. locust!

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When identifying swarming insects on crops, the species “cicada” and “locust” are frequently confused.

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Let's start with the Cicada!

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Annual cicadas are found across all continents.

Geographic Range

However, periodic cicadas are only found in North America.

They are most widespread in the eastern and central United States.

They lay their eggs on vegetation. When the eggs hatch, they transform into nymphs.

Life Cycle

A cicada nymph can live up to 17 years underground.

Nymphs descend to the earth and burrow there, where they spend most of their lives.

They will pass away about six weeks after emerging once they have laid new eggs.

Periodical Cicadas typically have black bodies and vivid red eyes.

The annual species have stunning blue-green and black stripes.

Physical Appearance

They are around the size of an average human thumb and have translucent yellow-orange wings.

Females use their ovipositor to cut a slit in a twig after mating to lay their eggs here.

The nymphs drop and burrow underground as soon as they hatch.


Cicada males sing to attract females, they sing songs that are unique to their species.

Sound Production

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The buzzing and clicking of cicadas can be extremely noisy.

They are produced by quickly contracting and relaxing muscles, which causes the tymbal-like structures of their bodies to shake.

These noises are the mating calls made by males.

120 decibels is the loudest it can get, which keeps birds and predators at bay.

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Now for the Locust!

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Locusts are present throughout northern, western, and eastern Africa.

Geographic Range

They can also be found in the Middle East, South Asia, and Central Africa.

The locust’s swarming range is much larger than its solitary range.

Locusts have a considerably more basic life cycle than the cicada.

Life Cycle

They simply deposit their eggs on the earth.

Locusts typically live three to five months after hatching.

However, they might lay as many as 1000 eggs during that time.

Before entering their swarming phase, they frequently have a green color.

Physical Appearance

During their swarming phase, their heads become smaller, turning brown and black with orange patches.

They have two long, angular antennas on the top of their heads. Moreover, they have long back legs that are always bent in half while at rest.

They lay their eggs in the ground and then the nymphs emerge in the spring.


Locusts can have numerous generations in a single year.

Contrary to cicadas, grasshoppers reproduce far more easily.

The locust molts multiple times before reaching adulthood.

Sound Production

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A quiet buzzing sound is produced when locusts rub their wings against one another or their bodies.

When millions of them are flying by, this sound can be amplified.

However, cicadas are much louder than locusts.

Now you can see how these insects are in fact vastly different.

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But there's still lots more to uncover about them.