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November 24, 2015

Cicada Fun with Google Trends

Filed under: Australia,Brood X,Japan,Periodical,United States — Dan @ 7:59 pm

This article was inspired by Serious Fun with Google Trends by Simon Leather.

Google Trends is a Google website that lets you see trends in the search terms over time. When people search for “cicada” it usually means cicadas have emerged in their area at the time they search.

The following graph shows when people searched for “cicada” over the past 10 years in the United States. The largest spike, in May of 2004, coincided with the emergence of Brood X.


You might think that periodical cicada emergences cause the largest spikes, but not always — and not just because periodical cicadas don’t emerge every year.

2004: Cicada searches spiked May 16-22, which was Brood X – Magicicadas.
2005: Jul 31-Aug 6 spike which was for Neotibicen Cicadas. No periodical cicadas.
2006: Aug 13-19, Neotibicen Cicadas. No periodical cicadas.
2007: May 20-26, Brood XIII – Magicicadas.
2008: Brood XIV Magicicadas emerged (spike Jun 8-14), but the largest spike was Jul 29-Aug 2, Neotibicen Cicadas.
2009: Aug 16-22, Neotibicen Cicadas.
2010: Aug 8-14, Neotibicen Cicadas.
2011: May 29-Jun 4, Brood XIX – Magicicadas.
2012: Jul 29-Aug 4, Neotibicen Cicadas.
2013: May 5-11, Brood II – Magicicadas.
2014: Brood XXII – Magicicadas had a relatively small spike May 25-31, compared with Aug 24-30 for Neotibicen Cicadas (late season due to cool weather). There was also a teeny bit of a spike around January of 2014 due to the “cicada 3301” meme/game.
2015: Brood XXIII & IV Magicicadas emerged (spike around Jun 7-13), but the largest spike was around Aug 9-15 for Neotibicen Cicadas.

Which cities had the most cicada searches over the past 10 years? Cincinnati, Omaha, Nashville, Baltimore, Washington, Chicago, Alexandria, St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Charlotte. Time for me to move to Cincinnati!

How about Australia? Cicada searches in Australia spike in December. The largest spike was in December of 2013, which was indeed a big year for cicada emergences in Australia.

The variation year after year suggests that there is a degree of periodicity to Australian cicadas. There is always a spike around December, but some years see bigger spikes than others. Just speculation (partially because the 2004 & 2005 data seems absent) but perhaps there is a 9 or 11 year proto-periocity happening.

In terms of cities, Sydney has had the most cicada searches:

How about Japan?! August is the best month for cicadas (セミ) in Japan.

Yokohama, Chiba & Saitama generates the most cicada searches:

November 23, 2015

Identifying Neotibicen

Filed under: Identify,Neotibicen — Dan @ 8:12 pm

Identifying cicadas can be quite challenging, especially cicadas belonging to the Neotibicen genus. Different Neotibicen species often look and sound alike, and it takes a lot of practice before one gets good at identifying them. I only know 5 or 6 people in the world that I would trust to tell a Neotibicen winnemanna from a Neotibicen pruinosus, for example, because their songs and visual appearance are so similar.

In this article, I will first point out various sources where to you learn about the different Neotibicen species. Then I will discuss basic terminogy used when describing cicadas. Last, I will discuss some challenges with identifying them. Subsequent articles will discuss the specific species and subspecies.


The best sources for identifying Neotibicen, IMHO, are:

  • Insect Singers for audio recordings of cicada songs.
  • The work of Bill Reynolds and others on, for example, the Info page for N. pruinosus. BugGuide is particularly useful for getting a cicada identified — you upload a photo, and they identify it. You can also try to figure it out yourself by browsing their catalog of images.
  • The recent paper Molecular phylogenetics, diversification, and systematics of Tibicen Latreille 1825 and allied cicadas of the tribe Cryptotympanini, with three new genera and emphasis on species from the USA and Canada (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha: Cicadidae) by Kathy B. R. Hill, David C. Marshall, Maxwell S. Moulds & Chris Simon. 2015, Zootaxa 3985 (2): 219–251. (link to the paper). This paper is useful for understanding the morphology of Neotibicen as well as how the various species are genetically related.
  • Biogeography of the Cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) of North America, North of Mexico by Allen F. Sanborn and Polly K. Phillips. (Download PDF). This document is particularly useful for locations.
  • The Cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadoidea: Cicadidae) of N. America North of Mexico by Allen F. Sanborn and Maxine S. Heath. (the book is available here)

You can also use this website as a resource. The Cicada Species of North America and USA & Canada Cicada Search are useful.


  • Eyes: Neotibicen have 5 eyes, but for the purposes of identification, the two big, composite eyes are most important.
  • Mask: a mask, in terms of cicadas, is a dark band between their eyes. Not all cicadas have this, but when they do, it can be useful for identification. Mask
  • Pronotum: the dorsal surface of the first segment of the thorax. The word means “before back” in Greek.
  • Pronotal Collar or simply Collar: a collar-like band that separates the head and thorax.
  • Mesonotum: a shield-shaped structure that covers the dorsal side of the second segment of the thorax. The name means “middle shield” in Greek. This is where the arches or “M” appears on the cicada.
  • Cruciform Elevation: a cross-shaped structure found on the dorsal side at the end of the thorax
  • Pruinose: a white, waxy substance found on the bodies of many cicadas.
  • Costal Margin & Wing Shape in general: The costal margin is the outer edge of the cicada’s forewing. The shape of the wing can help you diagnose the species. Wing Bend
  • Abdomen: The third, last and final portion of the cicada’s body (1st: head, 2nd: thorax, 3rd: abdomen).
  • Dorsal: The top side of the cicada.
  • Ventral: The bottom side of the cicada — where the legs are.
  • Teneral: Teneral means soft, and in the case of cicadas, it refers to the adult cicada when it has recently molted and is still soft/unsclerotized.
  • Song: Neotibicen males sing using their tybmals, which are drum-like organs located in their abdomen.

Cicada Anatomy

Those are the resources and terminology — now on to the challenges.

Rules are not absolute

Sometimes a diagnostic characteristic is fool-proof for the majority of identifications, but in some cases it fails.

Example: N. lyricen typically have black collars, but not 100% of the time. You might find a lyricen with a green collar, and think it is a N. linnei.


Neotibicen like canicularis, linnei, pruinosus, robinsonianus & winnemanna, are closely related, and cicada researchers have found evidence that they hybridize, based on hybrid songs or mixed characteristics.

See Bill Reynolds’ information on hybrids on BugGuide.

Live vs. Dead

Dead specimens lose color over time. Eyes lose color. Vibrant greens become dull. Dull greens become yellow or brown. Keep that in mind.

Eye Colors Fade

Teneral vs Adult

When cicadas molt, and their bodies as still soft, they are often lighter in color and the markings on their skin are not clearly defined.

2 hours of change

Some previous articles about identifying teneral Neotibicen:


Photograph the same cicada in direct sunlight, indoors with a flash, or without a flash under florescent lighting, and it might appear different each time.

The eyes, in particular, look different under different lighting conditions.

Name changes

The names of all plants and animals change over time, for several reasons. An old book or paper about Neotibicen might feature names that have completely changed. Neotibicen tibicen tibicen, for example, was called Tibicen chloromera not long ago.

See major changes to the Tibicen genera for information about the recent change from Tibicen to Neotibicen. I haven’t had to the time to update all the Tibicens to Neotibicens on this website — some day I will.

And in case you wanted to know:

How to tell if a Neotibicen is a male or female.


The next article will discuss the different Neotibicen species.

November 21, 2015

Australian Cicada Names 🇦🇺

Filed under: Australia,David Emery — Tags: — Dan @ 1:01 am

It’s that time again: time for cicadas in Australia!

Australia has the best cicada names:

Cyclochila australasiae

Green Grocer

Green Grocer (Cyclochila australasiae)
Photo by Bron.

Green Grocer

rare green yellow Green Grocer
Photo by Kevin Lee. Yellow-Green Green Grocer with Mask.

Yellow Monday

Tom Katzoulopolopoulous (Cyclochila australasiae)
Photo by Tom Katzoulopolopoulous.

Blue Moon

Blue Moon (Cyclochila australasiae)
Photo by David Emery.

Masked Devil

Masked Devil cicada (Cyclochila australasiae)
Photo by David Emery.

Cherrynose or Whiskey Drinker (Macrotristria angularis)

Cherry Nose cicada (Macrotristria angularis)
Photo by David Emery.

Bagpipe Cicada (Lembeja paradoxa)

Lembeja paradoxa
Photo by David Emery.

Floury Baker (Abricta curvicosta)

Michelle Thompson's Floury Baker (Abricta curvicosta)
Photo by Michelle Thompson.

Golden Emperor (Anapsaltoda pulchra)

Anapsaltoda pulchra (Golden Emperor) from Herberton (Queensland) by David Emery.
Photo by David Emery.

Double Drummer (Thopha saccata)

Double Drummer (Thopha saccata)
Photo by Kevin Lee.

Orange Drummer (Thopha colorata)

Orange Drummer (Thopha colorata)
Photo by Jodi.

White Drummer (Arunta perulata)

White Drummer cicada (Arunta perulata)
Photo by David Emery.

Bladder Cicada (Cystosoma saundersii)

Cystosoma saundersii (bladder cicada)
Photo by David Emery.

Redeye cicada (Psaltoda moerens)

Redeye cicada (Psaltoda moerens)
Photo by David Emery.

Click images for larger versions.

More interesting names:

Use this amazing image by David Emery to identify some of the most well-known Australian cicada species:

Aussie cicadas 1 (3)

More resources:

October 31, 2015

The 2015 Brood XXIII Emergence Revisited

Filed under: Brood XXIII,Magicicada — Dan @ 5:40 pm

Both Brood XXIII and Brood IV Magicicada periodical cicadas emerged in 2015. It was my plan to go on an epic road trip, see both broods, and report and document everything. I was able to cover a lot of ground, but thanks to cool or atrocious weather, I completely missed Brood IV, and much of Brood XXIII.

The most difficult thing about planning an epic cicada vacation is timing it right. It really depends on the luck of the draw. Cicada behavior depends on the weather, and since we cannot predict the weather months, weeks, or sometimes days in advance, it is difficult to guess exactly which weeks to plan a vacation.

These cicadas like nice weather: dry, sunny, preferably in the high 70s or 80s. If it is too cold, they won’t emerge. If it is too cool, they won’t sing, making it hard to find them when traveling along the highway, because we need to hear them to find them. If the weather is absolutely abysmal, like it was in Texas this year, I’m not even going to try to look for them; I like cicadas a lot, but they aren’t worth having my car washed into a roadside ravine.

That said, I did get to hear and see a lot of Magicicadas, so I’m not complaining.

I traveled through the following states:

Mississippi: ✔️Plenty of cicadas. I heard three 13-year Magicicada species in Jackson, Mississippi, in the woods behind the Mississippi Museum of Natural History.
Louisiana: ❌ I heard no cicadas. Bad/cool weather.
Texas: ❌ I saw the storm clouds, and headed back to Arkansas.
Arkansas: ❌ I heard no cicadas. More bad/cool weather.
Tennesse: ✔️ Plenty of cicadas North of Memphis.
Kentucky: ✔️Plenty of cicadas in the Land Between the Lakes area.
Illinois: ✔️An amazing amount of cicadas in the Giant City State Park area, including all four 13-year Magicicada species.
Indiana: ✔️ A couple exuvia/skins at a welcome center.

Note that the ❌ does not mean that cicadas did not appear in those states this year. It just means I did not see them because of weather conditions & timing.

This is a map of my cicada sightings:
2015 Roadtrip

Visit my 2015 Brood XXIII gallery, to see more photos like this:

Male Female and Male Magicicada tredecim

Some specimens:

Magicicada specimens

Some videos:

Cicadas in Giant City Park in Illinois:

Cicadas in the Land Between the Lakes Area in Kentucky:

October 25, 2015

Catching Cicadas in North Carolina

Filed under: Bill Reynolds — Tags: , , , — Dan @ 12:51 pm

This past summer I had the opportunity to meet cicada expert Bill Reynolds. Bill manages the Arthropod Zoo at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The arthropod zoo in the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science

Bill’s specialty is Neotibicen (formerly Tibicen) cicadas. Neotibicen are a genera of broad-headed, medium-sized, well-cammouflaged cicadas that belong to the tribe Cryptotympanini.

I met Bill at the museum and allowed me to view his massive collection of Neotibicen — box after box of cicadas, all carefully pinned and labeled. See a small portion of Bill’s collection.

Neotibicen pronotalis: Neotibicen pronotalis

Later we went for lunch, and listened for N. winnemannus hybrids in the neighborhood surrounding the museum. Close to the entrance of the museum, we heard a cicada that started with the call of the N. winnemannus and ended with the call of N. linnei — likely a hybrid. Around the museum neighborhood we heard other cicadas that sounded like a N. winnemanna but not quite. Very interesting.

Personally, my methods of catching cicadas are: 1) waiting until dark and grabbing them when they are still nymphs or eclosing, 2) grabbing them by hand on a tree or in flight, or 3) waiting for them to die, and collecting them from the ground. Bill introduced me to two new methods: 1) netting cicadas, and 2) finding cicadas under lights in parking lots.

I own a net (purchased from BioQuip) but I haven’t practiced using it. Bill Reynolds is a master of spotting and netting cicadas. He uses a net with 3 or 4 extension poles, which I belive gives him a 20′ reach. Bill is a cicada netting ninja. In a small, roadside patch of trees he caught three N. winnemannus in a matter of minutes.

Here is a video of that grove of N. winnemannus patronized trees. (Listen, don’t watch. The video camera work is erratic and you won’t see any live cicadas):

Here is a N. winnemannus Bill caught with a net:

N. winnemannus

Finding cicadas under parking lot lights require you to cruise shopping mall parking lots on hot summer nights. Wait until midnight, and slowly drive behind malls looking for cicadas clinging to walls or resting on the ground. It is simple as that.

Here is a N. lyricen engelhardti found by Bill.

Neotibicen lyricen engelhardti

Whenever catching cicadas you should be respectful of private property, don’t cause a disturbance, and be mindful of local laws.

October 11, 2015

Brood V 17-Year Cicadas Due in Spring of 2016

Filed under: Brood V,Magicicada,Periodical — Dan @ 12:44 pm

Brood V 2016Brood V (5) 17-year cicadas will emerge in the spring of 2016 in Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.

The cicada species that will emerge are Magicicada cassinii (Fisher, 1852), Magicicada septendecim (Linnaeus, 1758), and Magicicada septendecula Alexander and Moore, 1962. These periodical cicadas have a 17-year life cycle. The last time they emerged was 1999.

Counties where they are likely to emerge:

This data comes from the Cicada Central Magicicada Database.

Stylized Brood V Map

Maryland: Garrett

Ohio: Ashland, Ashtabula, Athens, Belmont, Carroll, Clermont, Columbiana, Coshocton, Crawford, Cuyahoga, Fairfield, Franklin, Gallia, Guernsey, Hamilton, Harrison, Hocking, Jackson, Jefferson, Knox, Lake, Lawrence, Licking, Lorain, Mahoning, Medina, Meigs, Montgomery, Muskingum, Noble, Ottawa, Perry, Pickaway, Pike, Portage, Richland, Ross, Scioto, Seneca, Stark, Summit, Trumbull, Tuscarawas, Vinton, Washington, Wayne

Pennsylvania: Fayette, Greene, Washington, Westmoreland

Virginia: Allegheny, Augusta, Bath, Highland, Richmond, Rockingham, Shenandoah

West Virginia: Barbour, Boone, Braxton, Brooke, Cabell, Calhoun, Clay, Doddridge, Fayette, Gilmer, Greenbrier, Hampshire, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Kanawha, Lewis, Marion, Marshall, Mason, Mongolia, Monongalia, Nicholas, Nichols, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Preston, Putnam, Raleigh, Randolph, Ritchie, Roane, Taylor, Tyler, Upshur, Webster, Wetzel, Wood

New York: Suffolk Long Island.

Learn more about Brood V:


Look/Listen for Brood IX Cicada Stragglers in 2016

Filed under: Brood IX,Magicicada,Periodical Stragglers — Dan @ 11:11 am

There is a high probability that Brood IX (17 Year Magicicada) stragglers will emerge in 2016. Look for them in southern West Virginia, western Virginia and north-west North Carolina:

Brood IX

M. septendecim, M. cassini, and M. septendecula are all part of this brood.

Learn more about periodical cicada stragglers.

Visit’s Brood IX page for detailed information.

October 6, 2015

Quintilla aurora cicada of the Republic of South Africa

Filed under: South Africa — Dan @ 4:59 am

Quintilla aurora

Thanks to David Emery for sending this photo of the amazing Quintilia aurora (Walker, 1850) cicada which can be found in the Republic of South Africa.

September 26, 2015

What is the root of the word Cicada?

Filed under: FAQs — Dan @ 11:58 pm

The Latin root of the word cicada, is cicada!

Looking back a bit farther, the Sanskrit word for cicada is चिश्चिर, which is pronounced cizcira. Not too big a leap from cizcira to cicada.

There are other similar Sanskrit and Latin words, for instance, 17 in Sanskrit is saptadaz, while 17 in Latin is septendecim. Sapta/septen, daz/decim — you can see the similarities.

September 25, 2015

The Great Cicada Blitz of Sydney Australia

Filed under: Australia,Nathan Emery — Dan @ 4:13 am

If you’re in the Sydney, Australia area and you see or hear a cicada this season, report it to the Great Cicada Blitz, an iNaturalist website set up by cicada researcher Nathan Emery. The purpose of this website is to map and identify the various cicada species in the Sydney area.

Cicada Blitz

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