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Locusts vs. Cicadas: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 26, 2023
Locusts are swarming, grasshopper-like insects causing crop damage; cicadas are known for their loud calls and periodic emergences.

Key Differences

Locusts are a type of grasshopper that can transform into a swarming phase, causing significant agricultural damage. Cicadas are known for their distinctive sound and periodic emergences, occurring every several years.
Locust swarms can devastate crops and vegetation due to their large numbers and voracious appetite. Cicadas, while numerous, primarily feed on tree sap and are not considered agricultural pests.
Locusts have a shorter life cycle and can produce multiple generations in a year. Cicadas have longer life cycles, with some species emerging only every 13 or 17 years.
Locust outbreaks are often linked to specific environmental conditions, leading to population explosions. Cicada emergences are more predictable, based on a fixed life cycle.
While both insects can occur in large numbers, locust swarms are often associated with famine and economic hardship. Cicadas, on the other hand, are mostly a curiosity and known for their loud mating calls.

Comparison Chart


Grasshopper-like insects
Insects known for periodic emergences

Swarming Behavior

Form destructive swarms
Do not form swarms


Cause agricultural damage
Generally harmless to crops

Life Cycle

Shorter, multiple generations per year
Longer, emerge every several years


Less notable
Known for loud calls

Locusts and Cicadas Definitions


Swarming, grasshopper-like insects.
Farmers were concerned about the approaching locust swarm.


Insects known for loud calls and periodic appearances.
The sound of cicadas filled the summer evening.


Insects known for mass movements and feeding.
The locust invasion was unprecedented in its scale.


Long-living insects with distinctive emergences.
The 17-year cicadas emerged in astounding numbers.


Transformable grasshoppers entering a gregarious phase.
The locusts changed behavior due to environmental conditions.


Harmless to crops, feeding on tree sap.
Cicadas are more of an auditory nuisance than a pest.


Insects capable of causing agricultural devastation.
Locusts destroyed the entire crop within hours.


Insects with unique life cycles and mass emergences.
The cicadas' synchronized emergence is a biological marvel.


Migratory pests threatening food security.
Emergency measures were taken to control the locust outbreak.


Famous for their loud mating calls.
The chorus of cicadas indicated the peak of summer.


Any of various short-horned grasshoppers that sometimes migrate in immense swarms, devouring vegetation and crops.


Any of various insects chiefly of the family Cicadidae, having a broad head, membranous wings, and in the male a pair of resonating organs that produce a characteristic high-pitched, droning sound.


Plural of cicada


What triggers a locust swarm?

Environmental conditions like rainfall and vegetation growth.

Do cicadas harm trees?

Generally, they cause minimal damage.

Can locust swarms be predicted?

To some extent, using environmental cues.

Can cicadas be found worldwide?

They are more common in temperate regions.

How long do cicadas live underground?

Up to 17 years for some species.

What's the purpose of cicadas' emergence?

To reproduce and perpetuate their species.

Do cicadas sing at night?

Some species are more active at dusk.

What do locusts eat?

Mainly crops and vegetation.

Do locusts pose a health risk?

Not directly, but they threaten food security.

What's the economic impact of locusts?

They can cause severe agricultural losses.

Are locusts and grasshoppers the same?

Locusts are a type of grasshopper.

Can locusts be controlled?

Through pesticides and environmental management.

Why do cicadas emerge periodically?

It's part of their unique life cycle.

Do cicadas bite or sting?

No, they are harmless.

Can locusts be eaten?

In some cultures, they are a food source.

How do cicadas survive underground?

By feeding on tree root sap.

Why are cicadas so loud?

It's their mating call.

How big can locust swarms get?

Covering hundreds of square kilometers.

How fast can locusts travel?

They can cover large distances daily.

Are all cicadas periodical?

No, some are annual.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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