Locust vs Cicada Difference, Shell, Sound Updated 2022

Locust vs Cicada

People usually confuse locusts with the cicada, but both are different animal species. Locusts vary more in shape than in color. The solitary phases come with a narrower pronotum, dorsal sclerites, longer legs, and shorter wings than the gregarious phases. Adults in the gregarious phases possess longer wings, broader shoulders, and more saddle-shaped pronotums. In contrast, cicadas appear to have large compound eyes, clear-membraned wings, broad heads, and stout bodies. This blog post provides you with exciting facts and information comparing both species. 

Differences Between Locust vs Cicada



  • They are the components of both disturbed and healthy grassland ecosystems and are primarily seen in natural and anthropogenic habitats such as agricultural fields, lawns, wetlands, rangelands, etc. These insects are present in all continents except North America and Antarctica. 
  • The adult cicadas’ habitat includes trunk, crown, and small twigs of woody shrubs and trees, hence preferring deciduous plants and trees instead of coniferous plants. Some insects are present throughout the world, while some are only seen in North America and United States’ eastern and central regions.
  • Desert locusts with an average size ranging from 2 to 3 inches are the large herbivores showing a close resemblance to grasshoppers. 
  • The cicadas with orange-colored wing veins, red-colored eyes, six legs, antennae, and amazing black-colored bodies ranging in size from 1 to 2 inches.
  • Many locust species are present throughout the world, including Italian locust, Yellow-spined bamboo locust, Sahelian tree locust, Bombay locust, Rocky Mountain locust, Desert locust, Peru locust, Mato Grosso locust, etc.
  • More than 3,000 species of cicadas are present, further falling into two categories; periodical cicadas that spend most of their lives underground and are seen every decade or two, and annual cicadas which are seen almost every year.
  • These insects migrate in large swamps with an average lifespan between 3 and 6 months. Some species have a lifespan of almost 8 years, during which they undergo reproduction and die. 
  • The periodical cicadas have an average lifespan of about 17 years in the larval stage, while annual ones live between two and five years. Like other insects, these animal species spend most of their lifetime in immature developmental stages. 
  • Their life cycle contains three main developmental stages: egg, nymph, and adult, with females laying 1 to 3 egg pods. The hopper or nymph stage is subdivided into growth stages known as instars, having a moult between each.
  • Their life cycle also contains three stages including eggs, nymphs, and adults, with females laying up to 400 eggs. The adults appear to die within 4 to 6 weeks after emergence. 
  • Like grasshoppers, locusts possess big hind limbs that allow them to jump or hop. A serotonin hormone is released in their central nervous system on the sudden crowding, making these insects more sociable and enhancing their appetite and movement. 
  • The periodical male cicadas possess a pair of ridged membranes or tymbals on the first abdomen segment, to produce loud songs. They make alarming sounds on being handled and attracting females for mating. In contrast, the females of most cicada species do not produce these sounds or songs.
  • They swarm in motion and cover vast distances of up to eighty-one miles or more a day. The locust swarms destroy all crops causing severe agricultural damage.
  • The cicadas appear to swarm several Midwest and the Eastern US States every 17 years, bouncing off people and cars and coating tree trunks and walls. 
  • Like other animals, locusts also need food to survive. Hence, they feed on tender tissues and leaves of plants. In comparison, giant locusts’ swamps appear to eat grasses, forbs, various plants.
  • The modified mouthparts are present in cicadas to feed on liquids instead of solid material. Their adults appear to suck fluids from trees and woody shrubs, while larval ones suck plant roots’ juices.
  • Their wings repel water but not all bacteria. They only shed bacteria with soft cell walls that are enough to get slumped between the spikes. 
  • The complex nanostructure of cicada’s wings allows them to reflect light to avoid being identified by predators and shedding bacteria, dirt, and water.
  • Locusts are beneficial in the way that they contain a variety of minerals and proteins and are an excellent source of protein, being essential food source in various countries. 
  • These insects provide many environmental benefits, including the fact that they are an essential food sources for many birds and other predators and add nutrients to soil on decomposition. 


Sometimes people get confused and ask some questions comparing both locusts and cicadas. Therefore, the answers to some of those questions are as given below;

Are cicadas and locusts the same thing?

Locusts are a type of grasshoppers known because of their traveling in swarms and destruction of plant life. In comparison to it, cicadas are known for their annual emergence or in cycles of 13 to 17 years. People also know them due to their loud, sound-producing ability. Instead of all this, cicadas are sometimes confused as locusts. 

Locust vs Cicada

Are cicadas as bad as locusts?

Although giant cicadas swamps destroy young trees by laying eggs in branches, they do not cause the same destruction level as the locusts’ cause. In addition to this, large trees can bear cicadas swamps. 

Is it OK for cats to eat cicadas?

The cicadas are not hazardous to dogs or cats, hence they can be given to cats to eat. Although they sometimes cause damage, these insects are rich in proteins and essential food sources. They don’t bite or sting but produce loud, shrill-buzzing sounds.

Are locusts harmful to humans?

The researches have not shown any locust harming humans. However, these tiny insects harm humans, indirectly, destroying their crops or agricultural economies in various countries. It causes significant damage to countries like Indian crops, where agriculture is the primary source of livelihood. 

Do locusts bite or sting?

Locusts eat plants but do not sting or bite people. However, these insects pinch someone to help protect themselves and get nibbled on someone without breaking the skins. 

Why does it take 17 years for cicadas to come out?

Research says these insects usually stay underground to get safe from various predators. Waiting for months or years means that cicadas predators will not depend on them as their food source. 

A cicada turn into which state?

The cicadas emerge from the ground as nymphs after the long 2 to 17 years. Adult cicadas, also known as imagoes, tend to spend most of their time in trees searching for mates. Males start singing, females get attracted, mating starts, and the life cycle starts again. 


Various species are present throughout the world, being different from each other in many ways. For example, lions are different from tigers, and cats are different from dogs, grizzly bears are different from gorillas, etc. This blog post provides a small comparison between two species, locusts and cicadas, in the same way. It helps you with enough information not to confuse these small insects. 

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