In some years, between October and December, the temperate
grasslands spring to life with the sound of Smoky Buzzer cicadas. These are small insects, just over 15 mm
long, black above, with a pale straw colour on the underside of the abdomen and
with conspicuously smoky fore wings.
Populations occur in local aggregations in both native and mixed native/
exotic open grasslands. This species
currently known from around Warwick in Queensland, the New England and Southern
Tablelands regions of New South Wales, the Canberra area in the Australian
Capital Territory, the Craigieburn Grasslands north of Melbourne in Victoria
and also historically from around Adelaide in South Australia.


A closely similar species, Lesser Smoky Buzzer, occurs in
drier grassland habitats in the Central West, Southern Tablelands, South-West
Slopes and Riverina districts of New South Wales, the north-western third of
Victoria and south-eastern South Australia.
It sometimes occurs together with Smoky Buzzer in New South Wales, where
the two species can be very hard to differentiate due to their near identical
appearance. However, they do differ markedly
in the structure of their calling songs.
Smoky Buzzer makes a low metallic growl that modulates into a modest
roar in each phrase, whilst Lesser Smoky Buzzer makes an alien, metallic,
wavering buzz in each phrase.

For further information on these species, and to listen to their calling songs, see the Smoky Buzzer and Lesser Smoky Buzzer pages on the Cicadas of Australia website.

The distributions of Smoky Buzzer and Lesser Smoky Buzzer
have been pieced together based on a scattering of records that been obtained
so far. If you encounter either of these
species or any other interesting cicadas in your area or on your travels,
please send in your record by leaving a comment on this post, via the contact form or via Twitter. Remember to take a note of the song, or a
recording is even better. Photographs
and/or specimen samples will also be very welcome. All observation records are invaluable to
improving our understanding of the geographical occurrence of these species and
their seasonality. Please keep your eyes
and especially your ears open!