Cicada Mania

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August 16, 2015

Color variations in Neotibicen tibicen tibicen

Filed under: Neotibicen,Tibicen — Dan @ 8:25 am

Color variations in chloromera
The cicada on the Left was found in Middletown NJ, and the cicada on the Right in Metuchen, NJ. Middletown is closer to the ocean than Metuchen is, but both share a similar elevation and vegetation.

It is interesting to note the color variation found in Neotibicen tibicen tibicen aka chloromera aka Swamp Cicada aka Hunch-Back cicada.

In some areas the dorsal side of N. tibicen tibicen can be almost all black, while in other locations their pronotums & mesonotums feature vibrant greens & rusty browns — you can even make out the “M” on the mesonotum.

There may have been cross breeding between the Southern Swamp Cicada (Neotibicen tibicen australis), at some point in time, providing some Neotibicen tibicen tibicen with more colorful appearance. Read Intergrade zones with australis on BudGuide for more information on that possibility.

August 8, 2015

Neotibicen lyricen engelhardti aka Dark Lyric Cicada

Filed under: Neocicada,Tibicen — Dan @ 8:38 am

This female Neotibicen lyricen engelhardti aka Dark Lyric Cicada was found during my lunch (half) hour in Middletown, NJ (95ft elevation). Yes it is covered with ants.

Neotibicen lyricen engelhardti cicada female

More information about N. lyricen engelhardti.

August 3, 2015

Tibicen bermudiana, an extinct cicada

Filed under: Extinct,Neotibicen,Tibicen — Tags: — Dan @ 5:33 am

The Tibicen bermudiana Verrill (T. bermudianus if you want the genus and species names to agree, and maybe now Neotibicen bermudianus) is a cicada that was endemic to Bermuda and is now extinct. Its closest relative is the Tibicen lyricen, which is found in the United States (and not extinct).

Here is a photo of a T. bermudiana from the collection found at the Staten Island Museum:

Tibicen bermudiana of Bermuda

More photos.

From the Bermuda’s Fauna website:

Sadly, when most of the Bermuda cedar trees were killed of by a blight in the 1950s, the cicadas that made the nights so uniquely magical and romantic in sound also largely disappeared.

Updated with a photo of the coin commemorating this cicada:

Coin

July 29, 2015

Neotibicen auletes

Filed under: Neotibicen — Dan @ 8:32 pm

Tonight I went to Manchester, New Jersey to look and listen for Neotibicen auletes aka the Northern Dusk-Singing cicada. As the name suggests, these cicadas sing at dusk (basically right at sunset). They are also the largest cicadas in North America.

I heard many auletes, found some nymphal skins, and one dead adult. Unfortunately I found no live specimens to film or video. Next time.

auletes

July 14, 2015

Annual Cicada Mania

Filed under: Annual — Dan @ 1:01 am

The 2015 annual cicada season is well underway.

The annual cicada species are out now (now means May to September) around the United States. Not all annual cicadas are out yet — some won’t arrive until late summer — but many are currently out in the southernmost states, and will soon arrive in northern states.

Wonder which annual cicadas are in your area? Try Biogeography of the Cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) of North America, North of Mexico, a PDF that features maps of annual cicadas. Also try our new U.S.A. & Canada Cicada Search search tool.

Wonder what they look like? Start at our Cicadas by Genus and Species page.

Wonder what they sound like? Try Insect Singers.

Here are a small portion of the species that can be found in the USA:

Diceroprocta apache
Diceroprocta apache
Found in: AZ, CA, CO, NV, UT
Diceroprocta olympusa
Diceroprocta olympusa
Found in: AL, FL, GA, MS, NC, SC
Neocicada hieroglyphica
Neocicada hieroglyphica
Found in: AL, AR, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MS, MO, NJ, NY, NC, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA
Okanagana bella
Okanagana bella
Found in: AB, AZ, BC, CA, CO, ID, MT, NV, NM, OR, SD, UT, WA, WY
Okanagana rimosa
Okanagana rimosa
Found in: AB, BC, CA, CT, ID, IL, IN, IA, ME, MB, MD, MA, MI, MN, MT, NV, NB, NH, NJ, NY, ND, OH, ON, OR, PA, QC, SD, UT, VT, VA, WA, WI, WY
Tibicen superbus
Tibicen superbus
Found in: AR, KS, LA, MO, NM, OK, TX
Tibicen dorsatus
Tibicen dorsatus
Found in: AR, CO, ID, IL, IA, KS, MO, MT, NE, NM, OK, SD, TX, WY
Cicadetta calliope
Cicadetta calliope
Found in: AL, AR, CO, FL, GA, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MD, MS, MO, NE, NC, OH, OK, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA
Tibicen pruinosus
Tibicen pruinosus
Found in: AL, AR, CO, FL, GA, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, MN, MS, MO, NE, NJ, NY, NC, OH, OK, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, WV, WI

July 13, 2015

Neocicada hieroglyphica hieroglyphica in Riverhead, NY

Filed under: Elias Bonaros,Neocicada — Dan @ 6:29 pm

Elias Bonaros shared these photos of Neocicada hieroglyphica that he observed emerging in Riverhead, Long Island, New York, which is the north-most point of their range, as documented by William T. Davis.

They were taken today, July 13th, 2015.

Here is the Neocicada hieroglyphica hieroglyphica exiting its nymphal skin.

Neocicada hieroglyphica hieroglyphica (Say, 1830) by Elias Bonaros taken in Riverhead NY

Annette DeGiovine wrote an extensive blog post with many images and video of emerging Neocicada hieroglyphica. Check it out.

What I’m interested in, but don’t know much about

Filed under: Cicada Mania — Dan @ 4:02 pm

20,000 or so years ago the earth was a colder place. Glaciers covered much of North America, including many states that currently are home to Magicicada, and other species of cicadas. There were glaciers in Wisconsin as recently as 9,500 years ago. The area below the glaciers were dominated by taiga, a landscape dominated by sappy evergreens and grasses (mastodon food). Florida was three times the size it was today.

Glaciers
Map from the NOAA.

What I’m curious about is this:

  • Where were the Magicicada 20-10 thousand years ago? Did they exist in a primordial form some place in the primordial woodlands of mega-Florida?
  • How did deciduous trees (oak, maple, ask, etc) spread northward, and how did the Magicicada spread with them?
  • Did the spread of deciduous trees northward into America play a part in the unusual life cycle of Magicicada, including the long lifecycle and 4 year accelerations?
  • Were the Neotibicen and Neocicada also living in mega-Florida or perhaps Mexico, and then spread northward as temperatures rose?
  • Were Okanagana able to exist in the colder, evergreen-dominated taiga of the time of the last glaciers?

For some reason this stuff intrigues me. Thank goodness my local library has a Jstor account.

All the cicada FAQs

Filed under: FAQs — Dan @ 3:09 pm

This is a list of all the cicada “frequently asked questions” on our site.

Cicadas in General:

  1. What do cicadas do?
  2. Where do cicadas live?
  3. What Might Cause Cicadas to go Extinct?
  4. Can pets or other animals sense cicadas below ground?
  5. Are cicadas attracted to the sound of lawnmowers and other machinery?
  6. What is the life span of a cicada?
  7. How many types of cicadas are there?
  8. Do cicadas stink?
  9. What do Cicadas Eat?
  10. Do cicadas pee?
  11. What Eats Cicadas?
  12. Can Cicadas See?
  13. Is there such thing as an albino cicada?
  14. How to tell if a Cicada is a Male or Female?
  15. How do you pronounce Cicada?
  16. Why do some cicadas have shriveled up or damaged wings?
  17. 10 Facts about Cicada Killer Wasps
  18. Where can I buy cicadas online?
  19. What is the loudest cicada?
  20. What is the purpose of cicadas?
  21. How do I photograph cicadas at night?
  22. How do cicadas make their sound?

17 & 13 Year / Magicicada / periodical / “locusts”:

  1. Will the cicadas kill my trees, shrubs or flowers?
  2. Why do Magicicada stay underground for 13 or 17 years?
  3. How can I prevent cicadas from damaging my plants?
  4. What are Broods?
  5. Did Someone Offer a Reward for White or Blue-eyed Cicadas?
  6. Are cicadas locusts?
  7. How Long Does a Periodical Cicada Emergence Last?
  8. Can you see letters like W & P on a cicada’s wings?
  9. What is Predator Satiation?
  10. What are Stragglers?
  11. Which fungus attacks Magicicadas?
  12. Do cicadas bite or sting?

Will the cicadas kill my trees, shrubs or flowers?

Filed under: FAQs,Magicicada,Ovipositing — Dan @ 2:41 pm

The primary focus of this article is 17 and 13 year cicadas (Magicicada). Most other cicadas are nothing to worry about, with some exceptions1.

People ask: “Will the cicadas kill my trees, shrubs or flowers?” The sort answer is “maybe”, particularly if your trees are pathetic weaklings. Here are some ways to defend your trees, other than chemical warfare.

Read on for more information:

First, it is important to mention that cicadas do not cause damage to plants by chewing leaves like other insects do, such as caterpillars. These are not the locusts associated with destroying the entire food supply of nations, nor are they the locusts mentioned in the Bible.

Damage from cicadas occurs during ovipositing, or in some extreme cases, when they feed on the roots of trees4.

Grooves made by a cicada during ovipositing:
grooves

The weakest limbs of a tree are often temporarily damaged or killed off, the result of which is called flagging, as the leaves of the branch will turn brown and look like a hanging flag. In many cases, they are doing the trees a favor by pruning their weakest branches.

An image of Flagging caused by cicadas:
Periodical Cicada Flagging 3

Cicadas are technically parasites of the trees, and they need the trees to survive throughout their life cycle, so killing trees is not in the cicadas best interest. If cicadas were tree killers, there would be no trees, and no cicadas left.

Big, Hearty North American Trees:

Deciduous trees, like elm, chestnut, ash, maple, and oak, are the preferred host trees of periodical cicadas. They will flag the branches of these trees, but only young ones are at risk.

Don’t belive me? Read this quote from the paper Periodical Cicada (Magicicada cassini) Oviposition Damage: Visually Impressive yet Dynamically Irrelevant by William M. Hook and Robert D. Holt (Am. Midl. Nat. 147:214-224).

The widespread oviposition damage from periodical cicadas did not have any important effects on successional dynamics of the host plants, suggesting that the trees appeared to compensate sufficiently for physiological damage during the emergence.

Periodical cicadas avoid evergreen trees for egg laying because the sap interferes with their egg nests.

Fruit trees: Farmers expect every branch of their fruit trees to yield fruit. They will not tolerate ovipositing & flagging by cicadas.

Cicada Lawyer
Cicada Laywer

The smaller species of Magicicada, ‘cassini & ‘decula, like ovipositing on trees on the edge of a forest, probably because their offspring will be more likely to find grass roots when they leave their egg nests (cicadas initially feed on grass roots until they are big enough to reach and feed on the larger rootlets of trees). An orchard is all “edge of the a forest” because of the rows between the trees, so it ends up being what the legal system would call an “attractive nuisance” for cicadas, because the farmers are baiting the cicadas by providing the ideal egg laying environment, only to kill them with pesticides.


Another consideration is that many fruiting trees are not native to North America. Apples for instance are from Asia, and are not prepared/evolved for the egg-laying behaviors of cicadas.

Small or Ornamental Trees: Cicadas pose the largest threat to small, weakling, ornamental trees, and young deciduous trees. These trees will have the fewest branches, and will not be able to suffer a heavy loss. These are the trees you can worry about, but there are ways to defend them. It makes sense to avoid planting ornamental, fruit or or other deciduous trees the year before and of a cicada emergence — make it the year you concentrate on pavers and low, ground-covering plants like vines and pachysandra.

Shrubs, Vegetables, & Flowers: Given a choice, cicadas will avoid ovipositing on shrubs and long stem flowers, but if the emergence is particularly heavy, they’ll give it a try, out of desperation.

Small flowers, like marigolds, pansies and zinnia will have the best chance of avoiding cicada egg-laying behavior since their stems are so short and unappealing for egg laying.

Personal experience:

I’ve experienced the full duration of two emergences of Brood II. During neither event did I witness the loss of a small tree, shrub or flowering plant. I saw a dogwood tree withstand two emergences, although it did experience ovipositing on nearly every stem, and it lost multiple branches due to flagging. In 1996, our small ornamental red maple withstood the cicada emergence without memorable issues (that plant was lost to a fungal blight many years later). I cannot remember any damage to scrubs such as boxwoods and forsynthia, or garden flowers. Your personal experience might be different.

And of course: Good Luck!

Some references, if you are interested in this topic

1 Certain cicada species in Australia will damage sugar cane and grape vines, but not in North America.

2 Periodical Cicada (Magicicada cassini) Oviposition Damage: Visually Impressive yet Dynamically Irrelevant by William D. Cook & Robert D. Holt.
American Midland Naturalist, Vol. 147, No. 2. (Apr., 2002), pp. 214-224.

3 Spatial variability in oviposition damage by periodical cicadas in a fragmented landscape by William M. Cook, Robert D. Holt & Jin Yao. Oecologia (2001) 127:51–61.

4 Periodical Cicadas in 1963, Brood 23 by D.W. Hamilton & M.L. Cleveland. 1964. Proc. Indiana Acad. Sci. for 1963, 72; 167-170.

July 12, 2015

Why do Magicicada stay underground for 13 or 17 years?

Filed under: FAQs,Life Cycle,Magicicada,Periodical — Dan @ 8:01 pm

People ask: why do periodical cicadas stay underground for 17 or 13 years?

There are three parts to this puzzle that people are interested in:

  1. How cicadas count the years as they go by.
  2. Why prime numbers? 13 and 17 are prime.
  3. Why is their life cycle so long? They are one of the longest living insects.

Cicadas likely don’t count like people do (“1,2,3,4…”) and you won’t find scratch marks inside the cell (where they live underground) of a Magicicada, marking off the years as they go by. However, there is a kind of counting going on, and a good paper to read on that topic is How 17-year cicadas keep track of time by Richard Karban, Carrie A. Black and Steven A. Weinbaum. (Ecology Letters, (2000) Q : 253-256). By altering the seasonal cycles of trees they were able to make Magicicada emerge early, proving that cicadas “count” seasonal cycles, perhaps by monitoring the flow and quality of xylem sap, and not the passage of real time.

Why prime numbers, and why is the life cycle so long? This topic fascinates people. The general consensus is that the long, prime numbered life-cycle makes it difficult for an above-ground animal predator to evolve to specifically predate them. Read Emergence of Prime Numbers as the Result of Evolutionary Strategy by Paulo R. A. Campos, Viviane M. de Oliveira, Ronaldo Giro, and Douglas S. Galva ̃o (PhysRevLett.93.098107) for more on this topic. An argument against that theory is that a fungus, Massospora cicadina, has evolved to attack periodical cicadas regardless of their life cycle. Of course, a fungus is not an animal. Maths are easy for fungi.

There are also questions about why there are 13 and 17 year life cycles, why a 4 year acceleration of a brood might occur1 and why Magicicada straggle.

1 This is a good place to start: Genetic Evidence For Assortative Mating Between 13-Year Cicadas And Sympatric”17-Year Cicadas With 13-Year Life Cycles” Provides Support For Allochronic Speciation by Chris Simon, et al, Evolution, 54(4), 2000, pp. 1326–1336.

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