Arabian cicada (Platypleura arabica)

GenusPlatypleura (1)

The Arabian cicada has yet to be classified by the IUCN.

A common sight on trees and bushes in summer months, the Arabian cicada (Platypleura arabica) is also well known throughout its range for the loud, continuous ‘singing’ of the males (2). This relatively large, robust insect has a brown body with lighter bars of colour at the base of the wings, which are transparent (3), with dark veins. Like other cicadas, the Arabian cicada has sucking mouthparts, and the rostrum (the projecting part at the front of the snout) originates from the underside of the rear of the head, rather than from the front as in ‘true’ bugs (suborder Heteroptera) (4) (5). The antennae of cicadas are very short and end in a bristle, and the membranous forewings are held in a tent-like position over the body (4) (5), extending past the end of the abdomen. The first two segments of the abdomen are modified for sound production (4). The nymphs of the Arabian cicada have strong front legs, adapted for digging in soil (3).

The Arabian cicada occurs in the United Arab Emirates and Oman (2) (3) (6) (7). However, no other information is available on the extent of its distribution.

Little information is available on the habitat preferences of the Arabian cicada, although adults are reported to occur on trees and bushes (2) (3) (6) (7), while the nymphs may live in soil (3). In some other members of this genus, males call from trunks and branches in the canopy (8).

The adult Arabian cicada emerges during the summer months, from April to August, when the males produce a loud, monotonous call to attract females (2) (3) (6) (7). These calls are produced by a pair of thin membranes within the abdomen, which are vibrated to produce a rapid train of pulses or clicks (4) (5). In some cicadas, air sacs in the abdomen amplify the sound (4). Interestingly, other members of this genus have been shown to be able to regulate their body temperature, which may allow the cicada to call at cooler times of day, or from perches which would not otherwise be suitable due to temperature constraints (8).

The Arabian cicada is reported to lay its eggs within plant tissues. The eggs hatch into nymphs, which may feed on roots in the soil (3), where the nymphs are likely to go through a number of developmental stages (4) over a period of up to two years, before emerging to undergo a final moult into the adult form (3). The adult Arabian cicada feeds on various tree species, using the specialised mouthparts to pierce the trunk and suck up the sap (4) (7).

The Arabian cicada is not known to face any significant threats, and it is described as a common species throughout the United Arab Emirates (2) (6). In some areas, it may potentially damage trees and crops (3).

There are no specific conservation measures currently in place for the Arabian cicada. However, surprisingly little information is available on this common insect, and so it may benefit from further research.

To find out more about the Arabian cicada and other Arabian wildlife, see:

For more information on conservation in the United Arab Emirates, see:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. ZipcodeZoo (October, 2010)
  2. Vine, P. (1996) Natural Emirates: Wildlife and Environment of the United Arab Emirates. Trident Press, London.
  3. Sultanate of Oman - Royal Court Affairs: Platypleura arabica Myers (October, 2010)
  4. O'Toole, C. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Insects and their Allies. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  5. Barnes, R.D. (1987) Invertebrate Zoology. Fifth Edition. Saunders College Publishing, Philadelphia.
  6. Hellyer, P. and Aspinall, S. (2005) The Emirates: A Natural History. Trident Press Limited, London.
  7. Alsharhan, A. et al. (2008) Terrestrial Environment of Abu Dhabi Emirate. Environment Agency, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
  8. Sanborn, A.F., Villet, M.H. and Phillips, P.K. (2003) Hot-blooded singers: endothermy facilitates crepuscular signalling in African platypleurine cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae: Platypleura spp.). Naturwissenschaften, 90: 305-308.