You Are Not My Entomologist; or, KILL IT WITH FIRE
August 12, 2021 11:45 AM   Subscribe

Who can identify this not-so-little fellow?

It alighted upon my (10+ story high) balcony screen about 30-60 minutes ago and has stayed there since. It has a distinctive tapering hind section, a sort of hammer-head, and transparent wings (which makes me think it's not a moth). Those round things on either end of the head really look like its eyes. Not pictured is a hump/bulge on its dorsal upper thorax. Its antennae, if they even are antennae, are just inward of its side-facing eyes and very tiny and short--more like port and starboard eyelashes. I don't see any body fur; its carapace is dark brown or black.

I wouldn't have even posted this were it not for its alarming size: just about 2 inches from the tip of the head to the end of the wings, definitely longer than the diameter of any coin I can think of. The body alone looks significantly longer than the diameter of a quarter.

I mainly just want to know how averse I should be to going out on my balcony ever again. I browsed all the plates in my relevant North American Field Guide to no avail.

(If it helps w/r/t identification, I live in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. There are parks, ponds, and lakes within blocks of us. We had a brief morning rain but now it's sunny, yet not crazy warm.)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil to Science & Nature (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
This looks like a cicada to me.
posted by clarinet at 11:49 AM on August 12, 2021 [24 favorites]


Yeah, I'm in no way an expert but that definitely looks cicada-shaped to me.
posted by darchildre at 11:50 AM on August 12, 2021 [2 favorites]


I'm not an entomologist either, but I'm pretty sure that's a cicada.

They're completely harmless unless they damage your hearing with their calls or try to eat you by mistake. Some people eat them on purpose.

You apparently do get cicadas in Minnesota, but just some annual species, not the famous periodic ones.
posted by confluency at 11:51 AM on August 12, 2021 [4 favorites]


(and cicadas are harmless. Just big. But they aren't smart and just want to hang out. No biting, all they can do is make loud noises and maybe fly and startle you).
posted by clarinet at 11:51 AM on August 12, 2021 [3 favorites]


That is a cicada. Loud, but harmless. You have not lived until you've been awakened to the sound of your cat running triumphantly into the house at 3 a.m. to play with a recently caught cicada.
posted by emelenjr at 11:55 AM on August 12, 2021 [12 favorites]


Pretty darned sure that's a cicada.
posted by cooker girl at 12:03 PM on August 12, 2021 [1 favorite]


Ditto cicada.
posted by kschang at 12:05 PM on August 12, 2021 [1 favorite]


Good news, you don't need to burn down your house.

Bad news, that cicada might be there a while. I recommend a broom.
posted by dazedandconfused at 12:24 PM on August 12, 2021 [1 favorite]


I'm in the twin cities too and they just reached the end of their life cycle - go for a walk and you'll find their carcasses everywhere.
posted by Think_Long at 12:34 PM on August 12, 2021


100% a cicada, just one of the real big ones. I live in Louisiana, and those are pretty typical. They're totally harmless, except when they fall out of a tree and bonk you on the noggin and it feels like someone threw a rock at you. They don't bite or anything and they're pretty slow to react.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 12:36 PM on August 12, 2021 [1 favorite]


cicada, utterly harmless. you could literally just grab it in your hand and chuck it out the window.
posted by j_curiouser at 1:28 PM on August 12, 2021 [4 favorites]


Not just harmless, but beneficial - they prune mature trees helpfully, aerate soil in their larval form, and, when they die - esp. en masse, as in their periodic broods - provide a valuable source of soil nitrogen via decomposition.
posted by ryanshepard at 3:01 PM on August 12, 2021 [3 favorites]


It's most likely a dog day cicada. They aren't a threat to people or pets. Since you were looking your mystery insect up in field guides, here's a University of Minnesota Extension fact sheet for them.
posted by Guess What at 3:06 PM on August 12, 2021 [1 favorite]


Haha, I was reading your description and the picture it was evoking in my head was pretty terrifying. When I clicked the link and saw a cicada I laughed out loud.
posted by ejs at 6:49 PM on August 12, 2021 [2 favorites]


I mainly just want to know how averse I should be to going out on my balcony ever again.

To answer this part of your question, you should go out on your balcony right now and stare at it. Well, that's what I would do.
posted by wondermouse at 6:50 PM on August 12, 2021 [5 favorites]


Yeah, they're fairly chill, you can probably get some great pics with different lighting.
posted by inexorably_forward at 9:56 PM on August 12, 2021


Check around the tree trunks, fence posts, frames around windows and doors, etc. for cicada shells. Alas, by the time you see the goofy, red-eyed warblers, they are near the end of their life cycles. But first, they leave their exoskeletons behind like crushable doppelgangers.
posted by TrishaU at 4:19 AM on August 13, 2021


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