Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Locust


In 1990, while watching an old house nearby being demolished, a HUGE locust flew towards me (I thought it was a young sparrow, til I looked down where it landed). It was about 3X wider than a normal-sized locust, and about 50% longer. I left it be, figuring it came from that house, (unless '90 was a "locust year" in St. Paul?) Was this a "Queen"? Or, a very old locust that had just kept growing?


Ok, this had me baffled for awhile until I realized you were talking about a cicada , not a locust....

First, let's clarify the difference.  "Locust" properly describes only the migratory phase of some species of grasshoppers.  Grasshoppers are in the order Orthoptera, family Acrididae.

Cicadas are true bugs in the family Cicadidae, order Hemiptera (formerly Homoptera).  The periodical species in the genus Magicicada , found only in North America, emerge synchronously in populations known as "broods" that occur every 13 or 17 years, depending on the location.

The cicada you are describing would be an "annual" species in the genus Tibicen .  Individual cicadas emerge every summer, but it may still take them 3-7 years to complete their underground life cycle before emerging as adults.

Your cicada was likely this one:


or possibly this one:


Yes, they do get to be really, really big, depending on the species!

Hope this has helped.

Happy Holidays,


Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Eric R. Eaton


I answer insect and spider identification questions ONLY. Attach images if possible. No "what bit me?", "what do I feed this bug in captivity?", or science fair project questions please. NO TECHNICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT INSECT PHYSIOLOGY.


Principal author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. Professional entomologist employed previously at University of Massachusetts, Chase Studio, Inc., and Cincinnati Zoo; contract work for West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Smithsonian Institution, and Portland (Oregon) State University.

Author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Missouri Conservationist magazine, Ranger Rick, Birds & Blooms, Timeline (journal of the Ohio Historical Society). I have contributed to several books as well.

Oregon State University, undergraduate major in entomology, did not receive degree.

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One of the top 50 experts in all categories for AllExperts.com, 2009.

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Principal author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Smithsonian Institution (contract), Cincinnati Zoo (employer), Portland State University (contract), Chase Studio, Inc (employer), Arkansas Museum of Discovery (guest speaker). Currently seeking speaking engagements, leadership roles at nature festivals, workshops, and ecotours.

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