Sulphur cicada

Before I took this photo I used to think that all cicadas are brown and ugly looking. Cicada watching is popular in East Asia. In Japan it seems that almost no child grows up without some familiarity with them. Each month of spring or summer has a particular cicada’s sound associated with it. So much so that a manga only has to put that sound in a panel to tell you the time of year in which the story takes place. Growing up in India, my friends and I never had much to do with cicadas. When I heard them in our hotel in Naukuchiatal, I only registered their sound as a peaceful background noise. I saw a large yellowish and black insect flying above the canopy of trees around us a couple of times, and wondered whether it could be Golden Birdwing butterfly, before dismissing the thought because the insect was not large enough. On our last morning I saw several over a nearby tree, pointed my camera at them, and captured the photo above. What a surprise! It was a cicada, the brightest that I’ve ever seen. A Sulphogaeana sulphurea. It has been reported from much higher elevations in Uttarakhand. This may be the first report of it at these lower elevations!