Cayman Cicadas

Each island has its own endemic Cicada species –

Grand Cayman Cicada – Diceroprocta cleavesi

Little Cayman Cicada – Diceroprocta caymanensis

Cayman Brac Cicada – Diceroprocta ovata

Order: Hemiptera, Family: CICADIDAE

The species are morphologically very similar, differing principally in their colouration, and they are allied to D. biconia from Cuba.

Diceroprocta cleavesi Aug.13-05 AS

Grand Cayman Cicada – Diceroprocta cleavesi

Photo: Ann Stafford, Grand Cayman, Aug. 13, 2005

Cicadas are locally called ‘crickets’ . The male Cicadas’ ‘song’ is a high-pitched buzzing sound. Female Cicadas lay their eggs in the bark of a twig. When the eggs hatch, the nymphs drop to the ground. They burrow with their front legs, which are enlarged for tunneling, and they live underground, feeding on roots. When they are ready for their fifth and final molt, they dig their way out to the surface and climb a short distance on to a plant to which they anchors themselves.  The winged adults emerge in July and August, leaving the empty nymph case attached to the plant.

Diceroprocta cleavesi Aug5-02 AS

Adult Cicada, just emerged from its nymph exoskeleton.

Photo: Ann Stafford, Grand Cayman, Aug. 5, 2002.

Cicadas collected during the Cayman Islands by the Oxford University Biological Expedition of 1938

Davis, William T. 1939  Journal of the New York Entomological Society, vol. 47, no. 3, pages 207-213

Diceroprocta ovata May1-11 WP

Cayman Brac Cicada – Diceroprocta ovata

Photo: Wallace Platts, Cayman Brac, May 1, 2011.

Cicadas (of Florida) :

Life Cycle

All cicada nymphs live in underground burrows, where they feed on xylem sap from roots of grasses, forbs, or woody plants. Xylem sap is low in nutrients, which helps account for the minimum duration of nymphal development being several years. All cicadas molt four times underground. When the last nymphal instar is ready to molt, it makes its way to the surface, climbs a short distance up a tree trunk or herb stem, anchors itself with its tarsal claws, molts for the fifth time, and becomes an adult. Its nymphal shell remains as evidence of its transition from a confined life underground to aerial freedom. Adult cicadas are strong fliers and visually alert. Most species spend their lives in trees, where males call, males and females mate, and females lay their eggs by inserting them into the woody tissue of small branches. Some cicadas feed on and lay eggs primarily in grasses and forbs. Adults regularly feed on xylem sap both by day and at night, but are short-lived, seldom living more than a few weeks.

Diceroprocta cleavesi nymph cases Aug7-11_129 AS

Three empty Grand Cayman Cicada nymph exoskeletons on Wild White Beach Lily leaves (Hymenocallis latifolia) on the beach at Barkers National Park, West Bay, Aug. 7, 2011.

Cicada from Grand Cayman, Staten Island Museum

Type specimen – Diceroprocta cleavesi.

Caribbean Cicada Killer Wasp / Mangrove Giant – Sphecius hogardii


Caribbean and Florida

Cicada Killer Wasp1985 Jun26-12 ASCaribbean Cicada Killer Wasp / Mangrove Giant – Sphecius hogardii

Oxford University Cayman Islands Biological Expedition 1938 collected on Aug. 5, 1938 (5.VIII.1938) but was not identified at that time. This specimen is in the National Trust for the Cayman Islands Insectarium, collected in 1985.
Photo: Ann Stafford,  June 26, 2012.

Sphecius hogardii wasp Jun15-12 S.Barwick_t.bmp

Cicada Killer Wasp – Sphecius hogardii   Photo: Simon Barwick, Grand Cayman, June 15, 2012.

Cicada Killer Wasp NT_NL Dec.2012_tUnraveling a Wasp Mystery

National Trust for the Cayman Islands Newsletter, December, 2012

1938 Oxford University Expedition to the Cayman Islands

1938 Oxford University Expedition to the Cayman Islands – pictures

Improved Key to New World Species of Sphecius

(Hymenoptera: Crabronidae)  C.W. Holliday and Coelho

Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 99(5): 793-798 (2006)

Prof. Chuck Holliday is now retired and has shut down his Cicada Killer Wasp website

10 Facts about Cicada Killer Wasps

Yes, these wasps kill cicadas1. it works like this:

    1. The adult female wasp will paralyze the cicada with her venomous sting.
    2. The wasp will carry the cicada to a burrow, where it will place the cicada.
    3. The wasp will lay an egg under the left or right second leg of the cicada.
    4. The egg hatches, and the larvae begins to eat the cicada, while taking care to keep it alive.
    5. Once the larvae has had its fill, it spins a cocoon, in which it will change into an adult wasp.
  • Female wasps are able to predetermine the sex of their larvae.1 They must do this because it takes more females to create new generations of wasps, than it does males.
  • Cicada Killer Wasps belong to the family Crabronidae Latreille, 1802; the tribe Bembicini Latreille, 1802 and the genus Sphecius Dahlbom, 1843 2. Crabronidae comes from the Latin word for hornet, Bembicini comes from the Greek word for buzzing insect, and Sphecius is from the Greek word for wasp.
  • Not all Sphecius wasps in the world kill cicadas, but all Sphecius in the New World (the Americas) do 3.
  • If you haven’t seen a Cicada Killer Wasp, they are large black and pale yellow wasps, and are often found carrying a cicada (see image on this page).
  • Cicada Killer Wasps are often confused with European Wasps (Vespa crabro). European Wasps are a more vibrant yellow color, and feature more yellow than back. They also belong to an entirely different family of wasp: Vespidae.
  • There are five species of Cicada Killer Wasps in the Americas……

S. hogardii, the Caribbean cicada killer, is found in Florida, and the Caribbean nations.



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