Kikihia subalpina is a small New Zealand endemic cicada (body length: ~18-22mm, females usually larger than males). They are usually bright leaf green with heavy black and reddish-brown markings on the dorsal side. Occasional individuals are yellow, brown or reddish instead of green - these colour variants seem especially common around Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier, Westland District. The underside is largely solid green or yellow/brown, usually with pink patches on the coxae. Tarsi generally black and reddish. There are four timbal ribs (two long and two short). Most individuals are lightly covered in long hairs. This cicada is found on high elevation areas of North Island and throughout much of low- to mid-elevation South Island and Stewart Island. Males call from shrubs (higher elevation areas) and trees (lower elevation areas). The song contains a bright ringing introduction section “dingdingdingdingding” followed by a cueing section “dit duu dit duu”. Females wingflick to males after the “dit” notes in the cueing section. The dominant frequencies of the song are above 8kHz, so they can be difficult for older people to hear. Life history is not known. The song is the easiest way to differentiate this species from other similar Kikihia (the most morphologically similar species is K. laneorum, other similar Kikihia have five timbal ribs instead of four).
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- Lane DH. 1984 (unpublished). An inquiry into suspected hybridisation in zones of overlap involving species of the genus Kikihia (Homoptera: Tibicinidae). Unpublished MSc Thesis. Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington.
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- Marshall DC, Hill KBR, Cooley JR, Simon C. 2011. Hybridization, mitochondrial DNA taxonomy, and prediction of the early stages of reproductive isolation: Lessons from New Zealand cicadas of the genus Kikihia. Systematic Biology 60: 482-502.
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- Marshall DC, Slon K, Cooley JR, Hill KBR, Simon C. 2008. Steady Plio-Pleistocene diversification and a 2-million year sympatry threshold in a New Zealand cicada radiation. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 48: 1054-1066.
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