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South Indian Cicada Species Gets a New Identity

  • 18 Jul 2023
  • 3 min read

Source: TH

Why in News?

Recent taxonomic research has unveiled a significant discovery regarding a cicada species commonly found in South India.

  • Previously mistaken for the Malaysian species Purana tigrina, this cicada has now been identified as a distinct species named Purana cheeveeda.
  • The study also highlights the potential implications of the cicada's distribution for ecological assessments.

What are the Major Findings of the Research?

  • P. cheeveeda's distribution extends across tropical evergreen forests from Goa to Kanyakumari in South India.
  • This discovery supports a high degree of endemism among cicadas.
  • The declining presence of cicadas in homesteads may indicate the deterioration of soil quality and vegetation.

What are Cicadas?

  • About:
    • Cicadas are insects that belong to the order Hemiptera and the superfamily Cicadoidea.
      • Hemipteran insects, also called true bugs, have mouthparts used for piercing and sucking and have two pairs of wings.
    • They have large eyes, transparent wings and loud calls that are produced by special organs called tymbals.
  • Dietary Pattern and Life Cycle:
    • Cicadas are mostly herbivorous and feed on plant sap using their piercing and sucking mouthparts.
    • They have complex life cycles that involve long periods of underground development and short periods of adult emergence.
  • Habitat:
    • Most cicadas are canopy dwellers and are found in natural forests with large trees; found in every continent except Antarctica.
    • The generic diversity of cicadas in India and Bangladesh ranks the highest in the world, followed by China.
  • Significance:
    • Cicadas are important for biodiversity because they provide food for many predators, pollinate flowers, aerate the soil, recycle nutrients and indicate environmental health.
  • Major Threat:
    • Human development activities reduce the number of trees that cicadas depend on for feeding and reproduction.
    • Climate change may disrupt the timing and synchronization of cicada emergence.
    • Pesticides, herbicides and fungicides contaminate the soil and water and affect the health and survival of cicadas and their host plants.
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