Cicada-An Insect

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is an insect with large eyes usually transparent with well-veined wings.  Cicadas are colloquially called locusts but a kind of grasshopper.

Most species of Cicada live only for two years.  But the 17 year old Cicada is found only in America.  A very interesting thing about the 17 year  life span of Cicada is that it sleeps in the ground for those entire 17 years, comes out to enjoy only five weeks of life in the sun and then dies.  When the young  are hatched from eggs, they drop down,  burrow into the ground and attach themselves to roots.  These young Cicadas which are called ‘nymphs’, remain there motionless for 17 years, sucking the sap of the roots.  And then they climb the trunk of a tree, into the light, their skins split open and the mature Cicada emerges.   It is strange that though Cicada has the longest life, it spends almost all of it in sleep       


Zeus grants immortality but not eternal youth to Tithonus and  Tithonus turns into Cicada, in the Ancient Greek Mythology. Cicada is used to represent the folklore in France.  Cicada represents  indifference.  In the story of The Cicada and the Ant, it is narrated that the Cicada spends the summer singing whilethe ant stores food and finds herself without food when the weather turns bitter.

The songs of Cicada in Japan films and television symbolically  indicates that the scene relates to summer  because Cicada is associated with summer season in Japan. A  song called ‘tsuku-tsuku boshi’ in Japan indicates the end of summer. Children in Japan enjoy the pastime of collecting Cicadas and shells  left behind when molting.  In The Tale of Genji, a famous Japanese novel,  the title character poetically likes to a Cicada for the way she sheds her scarf the way a Cicada sheds its shell when molting.

‘To shed off the golden Cicada skin’, the phrase, in China is popular poetic name of using deception to escape danger to fool the enemies.  The Priest of Tang was named the ‘Golden Cicada’ in the famous Chinese classic‘ Journey to the West’ symbolizing the many stages of transformation of a person to reach enlightenment.

Cicada ranked 6th in Merriam-Webster’s Words of the year and it is amazing that a small insect called Cicada has a prominent symbolic place all over the world.


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