Genus Zouga Distant 1906.
Unusual South African cicada genus

Cicadas that sing while they fly have evolved independently several times, but probably the best singing flyers we have yet come across are the South African cicadas of the genus Zouga (subfamily Cicadettinae). These cicadas are generally quite small, dark coloured and incredibly zippy, and fly by you so rapidly and in a erratic zig-zag you usually cannot see them (we sometimes call such cicadas invisible cicadas, because you can hear them go by but you cannot lay eyes on them!). Their songs ranged from rapid, repeated ticks, to slower repeated zeeeps, to slower more complicated "didideeeeeuueeee" songs.

So how did we catch them? Well we tried mimicking their songs by hissing through our teeth, and found that these cicada species have very jealous little males (it is amazing what you find out when you try to talk back to cicadas!). When one male is sitting stationary in a bush, and another male flies by singing, the stationary male will make little growly, complaining sounds. So when we mimicked the songs by hissing, any stationary males sitting around us would start complaining. If you were quick you could sometimes track them down to the bush they were complaining from and grab them before they flew off!

Below is a picture of one species we collected. Currently there are five described species in the genus Zouga, but the genus appears to be very speciose, so this is probably an undescribed species.

Note: Kathy and Dave are on an extended trip through South Africa, Australia, Mauritius and New Zealand collecting cicadas, and this is one of the species encountered in South Africa.

Zouga cicada from South Africa

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