It is amazing what one can see around here by taking the time to look. Or as Sherlock Holmes (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) observed: “The world is full of obvious things which nobody ever observes.”
Consider the cicada. When compared to bees, flys, and beetles, this is hardly a conspicuous member of our community. It is here, but I have only seen one twice in the last five or so years.
I first saw one two years ago. It turned out to be the amazingly rare, Platypedia putnami, last reported in British Columbia (indeed, anywhere in Canada) in 1942. Pictures of P. putnami appear on my page about true bugs.
What about this most recent cicada? Andy Hamilton, an expert in such matters, tells me that it is one of the whip cicadas, genus “Okanagana, and probably O. vanduzeei (which is also rare).” It is unclear why both of my cicadas would turn out to be rare. Alas, small-number statistics aren’t a good basis for generalizations.
The cicada would be a strong contender in a contest to pick our ugliest bug. Not that it is vicious—it neither bites nor stings—just that…, well, the picture says it all.