Cicada Common names In the Southern Hemisphere
Entomologist Dr. Art Evans and VPM radio producer Steve Clark engage in a lively conversation over the creative common names applied to cicadas "down under”.
Common names of Australian cicadas: https://www.cicadamania.com/cicadas/australian-cicada-names/
See more Australian cicadas: http://dr-pop.net/cicada-list.htm
Steve Clark: I'm Steve Clark with Dr. Art Evans, entomologist, and this is What’s Bugging You. What's going on in the world of entomology as we approach winter?
Art Evans: Well, not much in this part of the world, but thanks to social media, things are happening in the Southern Hemisphere. You know, summer is . . .
Evans: . . . popping. And one of the things I really enjoy about Facebook, in particular, is looking at the pages that are based in South Africa and Australia. For me, South Africa is like seeing old friends, because I lived there for three years. But Australia has had a long fascination for me. I've never been, but I would love to go someday. I have a particular fascination for cicadas. Well, cicadas are a big deal in Australia.
Clark: How so?
Evans: The calls of cicadas are quite familiar to people living in the cities. Because they're so familiar, people have given different species of cicadas different common names.
Clark: Are these the same sort of cicadas that we have around here?
Evans: They're different species, that's for sure, and they have different calls too.
Evans: So they've been given different names, and I just love the names. I mean, just to compare here in North America, some of the common names that we have for cicadas are the dark lyric cicada, the lyric cicada, the scissor grinder, the superb dog-day cicada, Linnaeus cicada, the coastal scissor grinder. You get the idea.
Clark: Sounds like a beach restaurant.
Evans: Yeah, yeah, but the Australians have taken this to a whole new level. You've got the green grocer, the yellow Monday, the blue moon, the masked devil, the bagpipe cicada.
Clark: One can understand that.
Evans: And one of my favorites, the cherry nose or whiskey drinker. [laughing] The flowery baker, the golden emperor, the double drummer, the orange drummer, the white drummer, the bladder cicada.
Evans: The bladder cicada is interesting. It is huge. It's got this great big abdomen that’s out of proportion with the rest of it. The red eyes cicada, not to be confused with our periodical cicadas. The black prints, the typewriter, the sand grinder, the tiger prints. It goes on and on and on.
Clark: I love it.
Evans: We’ll be sure to put the link up so you can see pictures of some of these fascinating cicadas. I became aware of common names with dragonflies and damselflies. Because there's so few of them, people apply common names to them. There's a whole group of people out there that only know them by their common names, and then there's all these scientists who know them by their scientific names. And I have to admit, I'm one of those that I know the genera and species, but I don't know the common names that well.
Clark: We kind of went through this with sweat bees and news bees.
Evans: Right, right, right, and common names aren't always that common. There have been attempts to systematically apply common names to insect species that have never had a common name before. Which I appreciate the philosophy behind it, but it sort of defeats the purpose. A common name is supposed to be common. It's supposed to be in popular usage and that's what everybody would recognize it as.
Clark: Like Art and Steve.
Evans: Steve, yeah. So anyway, things are happening in the Southern Hemisphere, and it's got me thinking about cicadas here in Virginia.
Clark: It's coming up again.
Evans: It'll be here before you know it.
Clark: Dr. Art Evans is a research associate at the Virginia Museum of Natural History. You’ll find photos and audio, links to the museum and Art’s Facebook page at vpm.org/bugs.
Dr. Arthur V. Evans teams up with VPM Radio producer Steve Clark for a weekly feature, “What’s Bugging You?,” which airs during NPR’s Morning Edition. The program takes its name from another of Evans’ books “What’s Bugging You – A Fond Look at the Animals We Love to Hate.”
Tune in each Tuesday at 8:45 a.m. or at 5:44 p.m. on VPM News