Sunday, 28 February 2010

Gilded cicada

Not long ago, I commented that the rainforest cicadas were well regimented insects. Although the big northern greengrocers (Cyclochila virens) have calls so loud that Angus Young would tell them to turn it down, they restrict the chorus to a fifteen minute segment after dusk. There is no prelude and no encore. The start together and stop together. These cicadas are professionals.

But that was the start of the wet season. Things change. Now the rainforest is filled with the songs of another cicada. This one is just as loud but prefers freeform jazz to the greengrocers' disciplined chorales.

The golden emperor (Anapsaltoda pulchra) is a Wet Tropics endemic. It is most abundant on the Atherton Tablelands, but is known as far south as the Kirrama Range. The call is difficult to describe, but Max Moulds gives it a go in his book Australian Cicadas:
One of the most pleasant-sounding cicada calls, powerful, somewhat flute-like in tone, composed of a succession of rolling burst of sound to some extent bell-like in nature, each element initially loud then falling in volume.

Golden emperor (Anapsaltoda pulchra) at the edge of the rainforest

The specific epithet pulchra refers to the adult's beauty and the common name underlines it. From the turquoise eyes (olive green by day) to the emerald integument and golden sheen, this is a most regal cicada. As far as I'm concerned, it and its cohort can sing as loudly as they like and for a long as they like. I'm sure Angus Young would agree.

Moulds, M.S. (1990) Australian Cicadas. UNSW Press.


Kirk said...

Have you seen this?

Snail said...

I have now! Thanks :)

Sherryl said...

This looks very much like the ones we had on the farm in NZ - and the description of the sound it makes is the same, too.
Much more melodious and with variation!

Snail said...

It really is quite an extraordinary sound. The big greens ones get a bit monotonous after a while.