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October 12, 2014

2015 Periodical Cicada Emergences

Filed under: Brood IV,Brood XXIII,Periodical Stragglers — by @ 7:06 pm

Magicicada Periodical CicadaThere will be two major periodical cicada emergences in 2015.

Brood XXIII, the Lower Mississippi Valley brood. This brood of 13 year Magicicada will emerge in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois, and Indiana.

Brood IV, the Kansan Brood. This brood of 17 year Magicicada will emerge in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa.

When they’ll emerge depends on the weather. A cool spring will mean the emergences will start later in the spring. Regardless of the weather, the emergences will begin in the Southern-most states, sometime in late April or early to mid May.

Brood IV and XXIII won’t emerge in the same year again until the year 2236. The only state that features both Brood XXIII & IV is Missouri, but the areas where they emerge do not overlap.

The best bet for Stragglers will be Brood VIII (17 year cicadas emerging 4 years early) & XIX (13 year cicadas emerging 4 years late). There is also a chance for III (17yr/1 year late), V (17yr/1 year early), and XXII (13yr/1 year late). Visit our brood page, to see the states where these stragglers might emerge.


October 5, 2014

Cicada Endosymbionts – Beneficial Bacteria in their Bellies

Filed under: Cicada Anatomy,Tettigades — by @ 10:41 am

xylem soda

Most people know how termites rely on microbes in their gut to break down the wood they consume into nutrients their insect bodies can use. Even human beings benefit from bacteria to help digest certain carbohydrates, fight pathogens and produce certain vitamins (like K and B12).

Cicadas also benefit from microbial endosymbionts. Cicadas, for most of their lives, consume a diet of xylem sap, drawn from the roots of trees. There are two types of sap: xylem and phloem. Phloem is the delicious, sugary one — in Maples, it’s Maple Syrup. Xylem is the “Diet” version of that. Thankfully cicadas have bacteria in their gut that process the xylem sap into nutrients cicadas can actually use.

Recently it was discovered that one such bacteria (Hodgkinia) has become two distinct bacteria in some cicadas belonging to the genus Tettigades. This discovery was documented in the paper Sympatric Speciation in a Bacterial Endosymbiont Results in Two Genomes with the Functionality of One by James T. Van Leuven, Russell C. Meister, Chris Simon, John P. McCutcheon (link http://www.cell.com/cell/abstract/S0092-8674(14)01037-X).

Division of Labor What’s interesting is the Hodgkinia bacteria became two distinct species for no particular discernible reason (nonadaptive evolution). Separate, either of the species would be useless to the cicada because they produce an incomplete set of nutrients, but together they produce the compete set of nutrients. Two function as one, that once was just one. Ed Yong does a thorough job of explaining this on National Geographic. According to Yong’s article McCutcheon thinks they know how it happened (explained in the article and paper). Why it happened is another matter — of course how and why might be the same thing deep in the soggy bowels of a cicada.

Chris Simon, let me know that she is working on a paper that will discuss bacteria found in Magicicada. It will be interesting to learn what they find in the bellies of those long-living cicadas.


What is the loudest cicada?

Filed under: Cicada Anatomy — by @ 7:58 am

“What is the loudest cicada” or “what is the loudest insect”, you might ask.

A recent BBC article says researcher John Petti as found the answer: Brevisana brevis, an African cicada, reaches 106.7 decibels — with the loudest North American cicada, Tibicen pronotalis walkeri at 105.9 decibels. Their sound was measured at a distance of 50cm (approximately 20 inches). Specifics about the equipment used and calibration of said equipment is not mentioned.

The article does introduce room for skepticism and debate, by noting that other species come very close (Diceroprocta apache), that the Tibicen pronotalis walkeri alarm call reaches 108.9 decibels, and a North American study that suggests decibels are correlated to body mass (and Brevisana brevis is not the most massive cicada).

According to the book Australian Cicadas by M.S. Moulds (New South Wales University Press, 1990) Cyclochila australasiae and Thopha saccata reach nearly 120db at close range. The “at close range” might be the key difference in measuring the sound, as Petti measured at a distance of 50cm.

I’ve measured Magicicada (the American periodical cicadas) calling around 110db at the “what if it sang next to my ear” distance, which of course, is not 50cm away. Magicicada chorus at around 80db:

Some people want to know how loud a cicada can get just because it is a cool fact to know, but others are concerned about noise-induced hearing loss (about which, I am not an expert). Both decibels and prolonged exposure seem to matter. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders page on Noise-Induced Hearing Loss, prolonged exposure to sounds over 85db can cause hearing loss (just above the chorus of a Magicicada). The WebMD harmful noise levels page has chainsaws and leaf blowers in the range of the loudest cicadas. Lessons learned: 1) Make sure you wear hearing protection if you plan on blowing leaves, or searching for the loudest cicada, and 2) Do not complain about the cicadas in your yard — complain about your neighbors and their leaf blowers.

There are over 3500 types of cicadas in the world, and for now Brevisana brevisis the king of the insect noisemakers.

More information on Petti’s study can be found here.

August 24, 2014

It is possible to identify Tibicen just after they have molted

Paul Krombholz has come through with an awesome guide to identifying Tibicens just after they have molted. Click the image below for an even larger version.

It is possible to identify Tibicen species just after they have molted

Notes on the species from Paul:

T. pruinosus [formerly T. pruinosa]—Newly molted adult has darker mesonotum (top of mesothorax) than the very common T. chloromera. Abdomen is a golden orange color. Older adult has dark olive on lateral sides of mesonotum, lighter green below the “arches”.

T. pronotalis (formerly walkeri, marginalis)—Quite large. The reddish brown color can be seen on the mesonotum of newly molted adult. Older adult has solid green pronotum (top of prothorax) and red-brown markings on sides of mesonotum. Below the “arches” the mesonotum color can range from carmel to green. Head is black between the eyes.

T. tibicen [T. chloromerus, T. chloromera]—has large, swollen mesonotum, quite pale in a newly molted adult and almost entirely black in an older adult. Individuals from east coast can have large russet patches on sides of mesonotum. The white, lateral :”hip patches” on the anteriormost abdominal segment are always present, but the midline white area seen in my picture is sometimes absent.

T. davisi—Small. This is a variable species, but all have an oversized head which is strongly curved, giving it a ‘hammerhead’ appearance. Newly molted individuals are usually brown with blueish wing veins that will become brown, but some have more green in wing veins. Some may have pale mesonotums that will become mostly black. Older adults vary from brownish to olive to green markings on pronotum and mesonotum.

T. figuratus [formerly T. figurata]—a largish entirely brown cicada. Newly molted adult has a pink-brown coloration with some blueish hints. Older adult has chestnut-brown markings and no green anywhere. Head is not very wide in relation to the rest of the body. The small cell at the base of the forewing is black.

T. auletes—a large, wide-bodied cicada. Newly molted adult is very green, but the older adult loses most of the green, usually retaining an olive posterior flange of the pronotum. The dorsal abdomen of the adult has a lot of powdery white on the anterior and posterior segments with a darker band inbetween.

Here’s an update for this article (8 years later).

This is a series of photos of a T. tibicen tibicen as it gets darker in color (photo by Cicada Mania). This cicada will retain the green color in its eyes and pronotum, but its back will turn almost entirely black.

Teneral transition of a Tibicen tibicen tibicen cicada

August 3, 2014

Iván Jesús Torresano García’s Cicadas of Spain

Iván Jesús Torresano García send us a dozens of cicada photos from Spain, where he resides. According to Iván June is a peak time for cicadas in Spain. Cicadas common to the area are: Cicada orni, Lyristes (old Tibicen) plebejus, Tettigetta argentata, Hilapura varipes, Euryphara contentei (miniature), Tibicina tomentosa, and finally the brownish “Barbara Lusitanica Cicada”.

Four cicadas from Spain

Here are some of these cicadas captured by Iván.

Cicada orni:

Cicada orni is one of the most common cicadas in Spain and all of Europe. The are incredibly well camouflaged.

Tettigettalna argentata:

Hilaphura varipes:

Euryphara contentei:

For more information of the cicadas of Spain, visit Songs of European Singing Cicadas.

August 1, 2014

A teneral female Tibicen tibicen tibicen

Filed under: Tibicen — Tags: , — by @ 4:19 am

Earlier this week I was lucky enough to find a cicada nymph at a local park in Middletown, New Jersey. I took the cicada home, took some photos and then released it the next day. The cicada turned out to be a female Tibicen tibicen tibicen (formerly T. chloromera) aka a Swamp Cicada.


Teneral female Tibicen tibicen tibicen cicada


Teneral transition of a Tibicen tibicen tibicen cicada

July 28, 2014

Tibicen of the Day

Filed under: Tibicen — by @ 6:22 pm

Over on Facebook and Twitter I’ve been doing a “Tibicen of the Day” series of posts, as it is summer in North America, when Tibicen are active.

We’re counting down to end of the Dog Days of Summer when the star Sirius first makes it’s appearance in the pre-dawn sky, which happens around August 11th. Here is a tool to figure out when Sirius will rise in your area. Update! we reached the 11th and we’re going to keep going!

For folks who aren’t on FB or Twitter, here are the Tibicen of the Day so far:

Last post: this is a list of all Tibicen north of Mexico. This is the final Tibicen of the Day post…

August 17: Photos of a Tibicen canicularis. Tiny with brown eyes.

August 16: Tibicen auriferus (Say, 1825) aka the Plains Dog-day Cicada.

August 15: Tibicen resh (Haldeman, 1852) aka the Resh Cicada.

August 15: Tibicen resonans (Walker, 1850) aka Southern Resonant/Great Pine Barrens Cicada.

August 14: Tibicen lyricen engelhardti aka the Dark Lyric Cicada.

August 13: Tibicen figuratus (Walker, 1858) aka the Fall Southeastern Dusk-singing Cicada.

August 12: Tibicen duryi Davis, 1917.

August 11: Tibicen canicularis, the Dog Day cicada.

August 7: Tibicen davisi davisi (Smith and Grossbeck, 1907) aka Davis’ Southeastern Dog-Day Cicada.

August 6: Tibicen dealbatus (Davis, 1915) aka “What’s the deal, with dealbatus”.

August 5: Tibicen dorsatus (Say, 1825) aka Grand Western or Giant Grassland Cicada.

August 4: Tibicen tremulus Cole, 2008 aka Bush Cicada.

August 1: Tibicen pronotalis walkeri Metcalf, 1955 (formerly Tibicen marginalis) aka Walker’s cicada.

July 31: Tibicen latifasciatus (Davis, 1915) aka the Coastal Scissor(s) Grinder Cicada.

July 30: Tibicen pruinosus pruinosus (Say, 1825) aka Scissor(s) Grinder.

July 29: Tibicen winnemanna (Davis, 1912) aka Eastern Scissor(s) Grinder cicada.

July 28: Tibicen linnei (Smith and Grossbeck, 1907) aka Linne’s cicada.

July 28: BONUS! Cicada Killer Wasps.

July 25th: Tibicen tibicen tibicen (Linnaeus, 1758) aka Tibicen chloromera aka the Swamp cicada.

Bonus: a video of a Swamp Cicada calling by Elias Bonaros.

July 24th: Tibicen auletes (Germar, 1834) aka the Northern Dusk Singing Cicada.

July 23rd: Tibicen lyricen lyricen (De Geer, 1773) aka the Lyric Cicada.

Bonus: T. auletes exuvia:

July 22nd: Tibicen superbus (Fitch, 1855) aka the Superb Cicada.

July 27, 2014

Australian Cicada News

Filed under: Australia,L. W. Popple,Video — by @ 1:44 pm

It’s Winter in Australia but I have two cool pieces of Australian Cicada news for you.

First, Australian cicada expert and researcher Lindsay Popple has created a new website about the cicadas of Australia.

Also, he’s been placing cicada songs on SoundCloud as well:

Second, Samuel Orr has shared some video of cicadas from Australia and New Zealand on Vimeo. I believe this video will be part of the cicada documentary he is working on.

Australia and New Zealand Cicadas from motionkicker on Vimeo.

Update! L. W. Popple said on Twitter that cicada season will start in Australia in 1 or 2 weeks! Australia has 8 month long cicada season!

July 23, 2014

Platypedia, the Fisherman’s Friend

Filed under: Platypedia — by @ 4:24 am

Cicadas that belong to the genus Platypedia are a fisherman’s friend. They emerge in large numbers near streams and stimulate fish feeding frenzies. May to June seem to be the best time to witness these “hatches”.

Platypedia are unique in that they lack the organs called tymbals, which most cicadas use to make their song. Platypedia create their sound by rapidly moving their wings. Some describe the sound as cracking or popping, but the correct term is crepitation. Many species of cicadas communicate using their wings as well as tymbals, but Platypedia only use their wings.

Platypedia putnami, aka Putnam’s Cicada, is the best known of the Platypedia genus. They are black with orange highlights. The can be found in most states and provinces from the Pacific Ocean to the Rocky Mountains, from Arizona, north to British Columbia.

Platypedia look similar to Okanagana, but there are key differences: 1) Platypedia have more slender abdomens, probably due to the lack of tymbals and no need to resonate a song, 2) Platypedia tend to have a marking in the middle of the pronotum (the area behind their eyes), 3) Platypedia are hairier, and of course 4) Platypedia do not sing, they snap, crackle and pop.

Watch these videos to see and hear these unique cicadas:

Additional reading:

Davis, W.T. Two ways of song communication among our North American cicadas. J. New York Entomol. Soc. 1943, 51, 185–190. Get it on the North American Cicada Site.

Sanborn, A and Phillips, P Biogeography of the Cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) of North America, North of Mexico Diversity 2013, 5, 166-239. Get it here (PDF).

July 19, 2014

A Diceroprocta apache (Davis, 1921) from Las Vegas

Filed under: Diceroprocta — Tags: — by @ 3:11 pm

One cool thing about being a cicada fan is your friends will send you cicadas from their part of the world. This male Diceroprocta apache cicada is courtesy of my friend Shannon, who lives in Las Vegas, NV. They’re out in large numbers from June to July.

Dorsal view of a male Diceroprocta apache from Las Vegas, NV.

Ventral view of a male Diceroprocta apache from Las Vegas, NV.

Diceroprocta apache, aka the Citrus cicada, is the only member of the Diceroprocta genus that lives in Nevada. It can also be found in Arizona, California, Colorado and Utah.

Here is a playlist of YouTube videos to watch if you want to hear what they sound and look like when they’re still alive:

If you’re in Las Vegas and hear an electrical buzzing sound, it might be a Citrus cicada.

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