These beetles are found throughout North America—from Mexico to Canada—so there’s a good chance you can find them in your area when you hear the screeching sound of cicadas nearby.
Measuring between 11 and 25 millimetres (0.43 to 0.98 inches) long, they’re small enough to easily perch on your fingertip.
Their black, elongated bodies feature a sleek elytron—a thicker, protective forewing—on top of their thinner wings which run straight down their back.
They often feature an orange rear section under their shell.
When flying, this makes it easy to mistake the cicada parasite beetle for a lightning bug or firefly.
But they have one feature you can always look for to determine if you’ve found one or not—a pair of Wowzerful antennae!
Females sport sawtooth-style antennae with fuzzy ridges, while males have antennae that end with a fan-shaped design that resembles the way a bird’s feathers spread out on their wings.
The best place to find them is on the bark of trees after the cicada spawning season.
This is because once the larvae reach adulthood, the race is on to lay more eggs and ensure the next batch of cicada parasite beetles are waiting for the next cicada spawning!
If you see one, you can approach them without worry. They don’t bite or sting, and aren’t poisonous. In fact, they’re completely harmless—unless you’re a cicada nymph!