There about 60 species from five genera populate New Zealand, and all are endemic to New Zealand and the surrounding islands (Norfolk Island, New Caledonia). Many New Zealand cicada species differ from those of other countries by being found high up on mountain tops.
Check photo gallery for help in identification of species
A female cicada lays her eggs in the twigs of trees and shrubs. She places the eggs in small holes that she makes with a sawlike organ near the tip of her abdomen. The female cicada can lay four hundred to six hundred eggs. After the adults have mated both will die. Adult cicadas most live 2 to three weeks but some live only for a day or two or less.
Cicadas spend most of their lives as nymphs underground. Most are 2 to 4 years but some may stay as long as 17 years feeding on the xylem fluids of plants by piercing their roots and sucking out the fluids. When they are ready to emerge as adults the nymphs return to near the soil surface and construct a waiting cell. Mostly these cells are immediately below the surface but they may be as far as 30 to 60 cm down. These cells are often accompanied by a turret constructed of soil particles which are glued together and erected above the soil surface. In some place these may be 6 inches (15cm) high and occur at a density of 25 per square foot (30cm2). The exit hole can be at the base of the turret giving it a blind tower for a roof. They remain in this cell until the weather conditions are right for them to emerge. The nymph then climbs up some nearby vegetation and at a certain variable height emerges from his old skin into a beautiful flying and singing machine. The time from emergence to being able to fly is about 2-3 hours in larger species but can be as quick as 30 minutes in smaller ones.
There is a tendency for species to emerge in the evening but some species emerge in broad daylight. Cicadas have large compound eyes situated one on each side of the head They also have three very small glistening simple eyes (ocelli) on the top of the head. Cicadas feed by piercing the surface of plants with their mouth stylets. They then suck up the sap through a tube formed by the concave surfaces of two of the stylets. It is easy to tell the sex of cicada adults.
Females have blade-like ovipositors visible on the bottom surface of the abdomen, and the males do not.
Males possess a pair of sound-producing, or "singing", organs located on the sides of the first abdominal segment. The male cicada makes the loudest sound in the insect world; they have their own built-in sound system. The sound made by the male cicada can carry for up to a mile. The sound is made by vibrating the ribbed plates in a pair of amplifying cavities at the base of the abdomen. Each sound organ consists of a large plate-like structure, the operculum, which covers a cavity containing a white or yellowish membrane and an oval, ribbed, drum-like structure called a timbal. Timbals are vibrated by strong muscles to produce the cicada song.
For diagrams of parts of a cicada visit http://webs.lander.edu/rsfox/invertebrates/tibicen.html
Some species can be identified by their sound
Empty cicada nymph skins on native orchid seed stalk.
More information on cicadas
Cicadas as a pest
Landcare Identification web pages:
Information on some of New Zealand species:http://hydrodictyon.eeb.uconn.edu/projects/cicada/sp_pages/NZ_species/
A new New Zealand cicada
Photos of a male http://hydrodictyon.eeb.uconn.edu/projects/cicada/sp_pages/NZ_species/A_cingulata.html