New changes to the classification of the North American cicadas belonging to the genus Cicadetta have been published. The North American Cicadetta were found to be unrelated to the European Cicadetta (including the type species C. montana), so a new genus was needed. The new genus is Cicadettana. Research & paper by David Marshall and Kathy Hill.
The generic classification of cicadas within the globally distributed tribe Cicadettini (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) has been challenging due to their often conservative morphology. A recent molecular analysis has indicated that the six North American taxa currently classified in Cicadetta are unrelated to the European type species of Cicadetta, C. montana Scopoli. Here we identify a set of diagnostic morphological characters for a new genus, which we distinguish from its closest relatives in Eurasia and Australasia.
The most famous cicadas — North American periodical cicadas — typically live 17 or 13 years. These cicadas only represent about 0.2% of all cicadas, most of which live shorter lives.
Magicicada septendecim cicadas live 17 years.
Cicada Life Spans:
Cicada life spans (life cycle length) vary from one year, to as many as 21, depending on the species. Cicadas like Myopsalta crucifera and Parnkalla muelleri of Australia have one year life cycles6. Magicicada septendecim, M. cassini and M. septendecula, of the United States, can live as long as 21 years (read What are Stragglers?).
Some life spans for well known cicadas:
Magicicada septendecim, M. cassini and M. septendecula: 13 to 2210, but typically 17.
Magicicada tredecim, M. neotredecim, M. tredecassini, and M. tredecula: 9 to 17, but typically 13.
Diceroprocta apache: 2-5, but typically 3-4 years1.
Most cicadas appear on an Annual basis, meaning that every year adults will appear.
It is common for many species to be Protoperiodical as well, meaning that some years will see an abundance of adults, while other years there will be a limited number of that species. Okanagana rimosa, in particular, are Protoperiodical 9.
Some species, like the Magicicada species and Chremistica ribhoi appear on a Periodical basis, meaning that after a specific number of years almost all adults of the species will emerge.
Although many cicadas have long life cycles, not many of them make it to adulthood. Nymphal mortality of Magicicada can reach 98% in the first 2 years 4. Imagine if all those cicadas made it to adulthood. 50 times more cicadas! Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.
Magicicada is just one genus of cicadas (representing about 0.2% of all species), but I have to think that most cicadas, regardless of species, will never make it to adulthood.
How long do cicadas live as adults?
Short answer: about a month.
How long a cicada lives as an adult depends on the species, but the answer could be from a matter of seconds, if the cicada dies due to predation or an accident, to more than a month. Cicadas are primarily subterranean plant (mostly tree) parasites, and only enter their above-ground, adult form to mate/reproduce.
A particular species of cicada — like Neotibicen tibicen tibicen — might appear to last for two or three months, because their song can be heard for that length of time, but that’s likely because they emerge over the course of a month, not all on the same day, extending length of time their species is present above ground.
No matter what the species, adult cicadas perish within a season or two, and do not live multiple years in their adult form, like other types of insects. They won’t try to move inside your house once winter approaches to find warmth and shelter.
1 Aaron R. Ellingson, Douglas C. Andersen and Boris C. Kondratieff (2002) Observations of the Larval Stages of Diceroprocta apache Davis (Homoptera: Tibicinidae), , Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society, Vol. 75, No. 4, pp. 283-289. Link. 2 Richard Fox, Tibicen spp, (2001) http://lanwebs.lander.edu/faculty/rsfox/invertebrates/tibicen.html 3 Soper RS, Delyzer AJ, & Smith LFR (1976) The genus Massospora entomopathogenic for cicadas. Part II. Biology of Massospora levispora and its host Okanagana rimosa, with notes on Massospora cicadina and the periodical cicadas. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 69(1):89-95. 4 Karban R. 1984. Opposite density effects of nymphal and adult mortality for periodical cicadas. Ecology 65: 1656-61. 5Campbell et al. 10.1073/pnas.1421386112. 6 Moulds MS (1990) Australian Cicadas (New South Wales University Press, Kensington, NSW, Australia). 7 Hajong SR & Yaakop S (2013) Chremistica ribhoi sp. n. (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) from North-East India and its mass emergence. Zootaxa 3702(5):493. 8 Logan DP, Rowe CA, & Maher BJ (2014) Life history of chorus cicada, an endemic pest of kiwifruit (Cicadidae: Homoptera). New Zealand Entomologist:1-11. 9 Kathy Williams & Chris Simon, The Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution of Periodical Cicadas, (1995), Annu.Rev. Entomol. 40:269-95. 10 David C. Marshall, John R. Cooley, and Kathy Hill, Developmental Plasticity of Life-Cycle Length in Thirteen-Year Periodical Cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae), Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 104(3): 443Ð450 (2011)
Back in the day — 1970s and earlier — people would sharpen scissors, knives and tools rather than throw them out and buy new ones. A scissors grinder was a person who would sharpen your scissors for you. They used an abrasive wheel to grind your scissors sharp. The sound of the metal of a scissor gliding across the sharpening stone made a unique sound — a sound used to describe the sound some cicadas make.
These days (2017 when I wrote this article) scissors grinders are not a common sight or sound, but a few cicadas still have a common name referring to the scissor grinding days of yore. A few, but not all, are also Dusk Singers.
Neotibicen latifasciatus aka Coastal Scissor(s) Grinder Cicada. Found in FL, MD, NJ, NC, VA. Season: June – Fall. A day singer found along the coast.
N. latifasciatus Call*:
Neotibicen pruinosus pruinosus aka Scissor(s) Grinder. Found in AL, AR, CO, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MI, MN, MS, MO, NE, OH, OK, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, WV, WI. Season: June – September. Neotibicen pruinosus fulvus aka Pale Scissor(s) Grinder Cicada. Found in: KS, OK. Season: June – September. A Dusk Singer, very much like N. winnemanna but predominately west of the Appalachian mountains.
N. pruinosus Call*:
Neotibicen winnemanna aka Eastern Scissor(s) Grinder. Found in AL, DE, DC, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, NC, NJ, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV. Season: June – Fall. A Dusk Singer, very much like N. pruinosus but predominately east of the Appalachian mountains.
N. winnemanna Call*:
It’s worth mentioning two similar cicadas, that don’t bear the “Scissors Grinder” name, but either sound similar or hybridize with Scissor Grinders.
Neotibicen robinsonianus aka Robinson’s Annual Cicada or Robinson’s Cicada. This cicada’s call is similar to Scissor Grinders in rhythm, but it has a duller sound/lower pitch (IMHO). Maybe it should be called the “Dull Scissor Grinder” (that is a joke). Found: AL, AR, DC, FL, GA, IN, KS, MD, MS, MO, NC, OH, PA, TN, TX, VA. Season: June-Fall.
N. robinsonianus Call*:
Neotibicen linnei aka Linne’s Cicada sounds nothing like the Scissors Grinders, but it is known to hybridize with Scissor Grinders. Found: AL, AR, CT, DE, DC, FL, GA, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, NE, NJ, NY, NC, OH, ON, PA, SC, TN, VT, VA, WV, WI. Season: June – fall.
You might hear a hybrid Scissors Grinder with a call that features part of a N. Linnei call!
A pure (non hybrid) N. linnei Call for reference*:
The five cicadas mentioned on this page are part of a group informally known as the Green Neotibicen. They are closely genetically related.
Cicada season in Japan, like North America, seems to be best from June to September, peaking in August. Different cicada species emerge at different times of the year, but the majority of them are active during the summer.
Cicadas are very popular in Japan, and they find their way into pop culture (Anime, live action kids shows like Ultraman). This photo features a cicada toy, when spun, makes a sound, some cicada clicker toys, a plush Oncotympana, a Seminingen (bad guy from Ultraman), and Yotsuba a green-haired girl who has caught a cicada (Lyristes japonicus perhaps):
The best place, I’ve found, to keep track of which cicadas are out in Japan is Twitter. You can search Twitter yourself for セミ and you’ll find many results — most Tweets are references to pop culture, but occasional photos and actual information about actual cicadas.
These are many of the Twitter feeds I follow. You don’t need to belong to Twitter to view their feeds, but it’s more fun if you join.
I’ll cut to the chase, in terms of Brood VI, I only experienced the emergence via my web browser. I planned on visiting North Carolina but rain and car troubles stood in my way. I did travel to Wisconsin to try to find legendary populations said to exist there, but I found no cicadas. I drove routes 90, 14, 12, 23 and roads in between, but I had no luck finding them. My investigation was by no means comprehensive, but I covered as much ground as I could in the two days I was there, and found no periodical cicadas.
Brood X stragglers are a different story. I missed seeing the massive Virginia/Maryland area populations, but I was able to see cicadas in Princeton, and the significant emergence in the Dublin area of Ohio. Here is a map of where I saw periodical cicadas
On May 20th I visited Princeton and found exuvia (shed skins/”shells”) on a pole next to where I parked my car, which was very encouraging. I headed for the Princeton Battle Monument park, a place where I saw massive numbers of cicadas in 2004. There, in 2017, I found exuvia but no adults — from 5 to as many as 200 per tree (I counted what I could see). The park was overflowing with squirrels and birds that would love to eat cicadas — I have no doubt why no stragglers survived. Black birds paced the lawn five abreast, like a small army systematically hunting for insect prey. During a normal emergence periodical cicadas emerge in such great numbers that many are able to get past the armies of hungry birds and rodents (this is called predator satiation). After visiting the park, I walked many side streets and found exuvia everywhere I went — not massive piles like we see during a normal, on-schedule emergence — but at least a few on every tree.
I returned on May 27th, and actually found adult cicadas in Princeton. I found dozens of Magicicada cassini and a few Magicicada septendecim. There were not enough adults to form viable choruses. I doubt few mated. I heard a single Magicicada cassini court song, so all least they were trying.
The most interesting cicada I saw was this Magicicada cassini with a mosaic pigment mutation, which caused the unusual orange marking on its abdomen. At first I thought it was a Magicicada septendecim, but Chris Simon confirmed that it was not.
I also drove Rt 29 from Trenton to Frenchtown, across Rt 12 to Flemmington, and down Rt 31 and heard no cicada populations. I visited Sourland Mountain. I visited many of the markers on Magicicada.org but found no cicadas, and certainly no viable adult populations (no singing, not enough to perpetuate a population).
North of Dublin, Ohio
On June 10th I made it to the suburbs north of Dublin, Ohio (itself north of Columbus). There I encountered a very active periodical cicada emergence. I mostly found Magicicada cassini, but I could hear Magicicada septendecim from time to time. I have little doubt that many cicadas mated and some of their progeny will survive to appear in another 14 or 17 years.
Cedar Springs, OH
When I’m mapping cicadas I try to stop at every rest stop and welcome center to look for cicadas. I found periodical cicada exvuia at a rest stop on Rt 70 hear Cedar Springs, Ohio. This was a nice find because I didn’t see any signtings in this area on the Magicicada.org map.
Indianapolis, IN, near Ft. Harrison State park
I passed through Indianapolis, IN twice on my way to and from Wisconsin. I found some exuvia on the outskirts of Ft. Harrison State park, but nothing inside the park (weird).