Comparison of cold tolerance in eggs of two cicadas, Cryptotympana facialis and Graptopsaltria nigrofuscata, in relation to climate warming


Hideharu Numata, Department of Biology and Geosciences, Graduate School of Science, Osaka City University, Osaka 558-8585, Japan. Email:


The population of the cicada Cryptotympana facialis began to increase in Osaka, Japan, during the late 20th century. Climate warming is considered a major cause, although the relationship between temperature and the cicada population increase remains unclear. By examining cold tolerance in overwintering eggs of C. facialis in relation to another cicada, Graptopsaltria nigrofuscata, whose population has recently decreased in Osaka, we tested the hypothesis that warming has caused the population increase of C. facialis by decreasing egg mortality due to winter temperatures. A short-term (24 h) cold exposure experiment demonstrated that the half-lethal temperatures (LT50) of C. facialis and G. nigrofuscata were −23.3°C and −28.9°C, respectively, although these extreme low temperatures never occurred in Osaka during the 20th century. Prolonged exposure to −5°C for up to 30 days had no harmful effects on the hatching rate in either species. Overwintering mortality was also assessed under naturally fluctuating conditions by transferring eggs to cooler elevated sites that mimicked the environment prior to the current warming. Eggs of C. facialis that overwintered at the cooler site exhibited similar hatching rates to those maintained at the original site. The results of these experiments consistently indicated that overwintering eggs of C. facialis possess adequate tolerance to the low temperatures of the 20th century. Therefore, we rejected our initial hypothesis that recent increases in the C. facialis population have been caused by warming-related reductions in overwintering egg mortality.