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April 27, 2017

Brood VI 17-Year Cicadas Due in Spring of 2017

Filed under: Brood VI,Magicicada,Periodical — Dan @ 1:01 am

If you’re in VA, MD, DC, DE, IN, TN, KY, OH, PA, or NJ head over to our Brood X straggler page.

BROOD VI

Update #5: Brood VI has emerged in NC, SC & GA as expected. The emergence in that area has reached its peak. No word of an emergence in Wisconsin yet. Cicadas in the Cincinnati area known to have last emerged in 2000, have emerged this year as well.

Don’t forget to report cicadas to Magicicada.org.
Feel free to add YouTube or IG links to the comments.
In the Ohio area, send your cicada photos of Mount St. Joseph University.

Previous updates can be found in the comments.

Brood VI (6) 17-year cicadas (“locusts”) will emerge in the spring of 2017. The main group will emerge in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. Other lesser groups should emerge in Ohio & Wisconsin. And possibly other states/locations as well.

About Brood VI:

The cicada species that will emerge are Magicicada septendecim1, Magicicada septendecula1, and possibly Magicicada cassini2. These periodical cicadas have a 17-year life cycle. The last time they emerged was 2000.

When: Generally speaking, these cicadas will begin to emerge when the soil 8″ beneath the ground reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit 3. A nice, warm rain will often trigger a emergence. So, definitely May, but something might happen in April if we have a particularly hot spring.

Report a sighting: If you see or heard cicadas, please report them to Magicicada.org. This helps researchers map the location of the cicadas.

Locations where they are likely to emerge:

This data comes from the Cicada Central Magicicada Database6 and other sources 5, 7.

Georgia:

Counties:

Best bet: Rabun.6

1889 document: Dade (Trenton), Elbert (Elberton), Floyd (Rome), Habersham (Turnerville), Hill (Virgil), Paulding (Brownsville), Rabun, Spalding (Experiment), White (Tesnatee). 7

Not Atlanta.

North Carolina:

Counties:

Best bet: Buncombe (Asheville), Burke, Caldwell, Henderson, McDowell, Polk, Wilkes6.

1889 document: Alexander (Mount Pisgah, Taylorsville), Bladen, Buncombe (Asheville), Burke (Morganton), Cabarrus, Caldwell (Lenoir, Hickory), Catawba (Claremont, Maiden), Henderson (Westfeldt Park, Horse Shoe), Iredell, Lincoln (Denver, Lincolnton), Macon (Franklin), McDowell (Greenlee), Moore, Montgomery, Pender (Long Creek), Polk (Columbus, Saluda, Mill Spring), Rabun (Highlands), Randolph, Rutherford, Swain (Whittier), Transylvania, Union (Waxhaw), Washington, Wilkes (Moravian Falls, Wilkesboro).7

South Carolina:

Counties:

Best bet: Oconee, Pickens6.

1889 document: Oconee (Stumphouse Mountain which is near Westminster).7

Brood VI

Wisconsin:

Wisconsin seems like a sure thing as well.

Counties:

Best bet: Columbia, Dane, Rock, Sauk (Baraboo)5

1889 document (aside from those mentioned above: Burnett (Spooner), Columbia (Madison), Crawford (Towerville), Dane (Janesville), Fond du Lac (Ripon), Green Lake (Dartford), Marquette (Harrisville), Sauk (Baraboo), Sawyer (Hayward), Washburn (Shell Lake), Waushara (Auroraville). 7

Ohio

Counties:

Best bet: Hamilton (Hyde Park, Delhi, Finneytown, Green Township, Anderson). 5

1889 document: Carroll, Champaign, Columbiana, Delaware, Madison, Mahoning, Montgomery, Morrow, Pickaway, Shelby, Union.

And Maybe…

Various counties in Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. More about that here.

Learn more about Brood VI:

A pair of Magicicada septendecim:
A pair of mating Magicicada septendecims found in Woodbridge Township NJ

Here’s some more stuff to get you excited about the emergence:

Watch a cicada emerge from its skin:

A whole lot of cicada nymphs:

Wanted Poster

Download a PDF of the wanted poster (1.3MB).

Other than GA, NC, SC, WI, OH:

What about Delaware, D.C., Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia?

The most interesting aspect of Brood VI for cicada researchers is its widespread distribution according to literature from the past. Take a look at the Brood VI map on Magicicada.org to see what I mean. See all those blue triangles? Those represent locations from the 1923 version of C.L. Marlatt’s The Periodical Cicada (United States Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Entomology Bulletin 71). Notice that they’re all over the United States, east of the Mississippi, and not just concentrated in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina, like the recent, verified sightings which are marked with Gold & Brown symbols.

The question is: was C.L. Marlatt mistaken? Is Brood VI really as widespread as his bulletin suggests, or do these sightings represent:

  1. Stragglers from other Broods like X or V.
  2. Members of Brood XIX that just happened to emerge the same year as Brood VI.
  3. Errors
  4. A combination of two or more of these.

Or… perhaps they are (or were) totally legitimate, actual populations of Brood VI.

If you look at the data from the Cicada Central Magicicada Database and compare the County/State locations where the Literature says Brood VI is, with other broods that emerge in these County/State locations, you’ll find an argument for the possibilities mentioned above.

Brood VI Counties
Brood X really stands out.

Stragglers from other 17-year Broods:

Quoting David Marshall’s paper Periodical Cicada (Homoptera: Cicadidae) Life-Cycle Variations, the Historical Emergence Record, and the Geographic Stability of Brood Distributions: “Many of the questionable brood VI records fall within the ranges of 17-yr broods II, V, and – separated from brood VI by 1 or 4 yr.”4

It’s very likely that Brood X stragglers, arriving a very-probable four years early, might be mistaken for Brood VI. About 41% of the Brood VI records overlap with Brood X. Reports of Brood X stragglers, year after year, could add up to significant numbers, and appear to be populations of Brood VI.

Not as likely, but still possible are Brood V stragglers emerging a year late. That would account for about 20% of the overlaps.

Probability of Magicicada straggling in order most likely first: 1) 4 years early, 2) 4 years late, 3) 1 year early, 4) 1 year late. Read more about stragglers.

Co-Emergence with Brood XIX

Brood XIX cicadas have a 13-year life cycle, and Brood XIX and VI will emerge in the same year every 221 years 13 x 17 = 221).

About 9% of the Brood VI records show an overlap with Brood XIX. The last co-emergence of these broods happened in 1881. There’s a good chance in that in 1898 Brood XIX +4 year stragglers emerged along with Brood VI too.

Legitimate groups of Brood VI not in GA, NC or SC

About 20% of the Brood VI records share no overlap with other Broods (at least according to the database). These are the interesting ones (to me at least). These seem to be the most likely candidates for something unique, and not a straggler or descendant of another Brood. There seem to be about seven counties in Wisconsin that share no overlap with another Brood. Notice on the Magicicada.org Brood VI page this: “Isolated populations in WI were not confirmed in 2000, but the search was not exhaustive.” Hmmm… I have to ask.

It is possible that groups of Brood VI existed during Marlatt’s time, but they have gone extinct since the 1920s. We lost Brood XI in 1954 — extinction is highly possible.

The Jim Thorp Pennsyvalnia periodical cicadas that emerged in-sync with Brood V in 2016 are an example of a group of periodical cicadas that share the same cycle as a major brood, but differ in location, and probably lineage. There might be a few examples like this as well.

It is certain that there are populations in Wisconsin and Ohio5, so I have added those states at the top of this article. The University of Wisconsin–Madison has specimens from Wisconsin in their collection, and I’m pretty sure Gene Kritsky has specimens from the Ohio emergences.

2000 Emergence

Gene Kritsky’s must-own book Periodical Cicadas the Plague and the Puzzle (2004, Indiana Academy of Science, page 97) notes that in 2000 there were several large emergences of periodical cicadas outside of GA, NC & SC. They emerged in Maryland, Virginia, Washington D.C., Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. Note that Brood X also emerges in these areas. Has part of Brood X been accelerating to fall into the same cycle as Brood VI? Maybe.

Oklahoma

As I understand it, there may be populations in eastern Oklahoma that might exist, but no one has checked yet (or documented it). Researchers hope to check this year.5

Brood X stragglers in 2017

Last, it is important to mention that there will be plenty of legitimate Brood X stragglers emerging next year (Brood X map). These might get confused with Brood VI.

Just in case, here’s all the States/Counties mentioned by Marlatt’s documents other than GA, NC, SC, OH, WI.7

After reading the old documents, I’ve bolded the “best bets” — the ones that were more than “a few”.

Delaware: Newcastle.

District of Columbia: Several localities.

Illinois: Dewitt [Hallsville, Wapella “millions”], Douglas, Knox, McLean, Montgomery, Scott, Shelby [Strasburg “plentiful is eastern part of county”], Vermilion.

Indiana: Boone, Brown, Carroll, Grant, Johnson, Laporte [Boiling Prairie “several in the timber”], Wells.

Kentucky: Letcher.

Maryland: Carroll, Cecil, Montgomery, Prince George, Washington.

Michigan: Barry, Chippewa [Pickford “plentiful”], Genesee [Linden “plentiful”], Houghton [Jacobsville “very many”], Kent [Kent City], Macomb, Newaygo, Ogemaw, Otsego [Vauderbilt], Shiawassee, Washtenaw.

Montana: Choteau, Flathead, Gallatin, Missoula. [Probably Okanagana or Platypedia, not Magicicada]

New Jersey: Bergen [Fort Lee – Probably paved over by now], Cumberland, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex [Franklin – swarms], Morris, Passaic, Somerset [“swarms in timbered districts”].

New York: Greene, New York [Manhattan had farmland in 1889], Richmond [this is Staten Island, east half of island], Schenectady, Westchester.

Pennsylvania: Bucks [Durham – “great numbers”], Montgomery, Westmoreland.

Tennessee: Bradley, Greene, Hamilton, Jefferson, Knox, Meigs, Polk, Sullivan.

Virginia: Charlotte, Chesterfield, Fairfax, Powhatan, Prince Edward.

West Virginia: Berkeley, Hampshire, Jefferson, Mineral, Preston, Webster.


1 Teiji Sota, Satoshi Yamamoto, John R. Cooley, Kathy B.R. Hill, Chris Simon, and Jin Yoshimu. Independent divergence of 13- and 17-y life cycles among three lineages of periodical cicada lineages. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA.

2 Gene Kritsky Periodical Cicadas the Plague and the Puzzle (2004, Indiana Academy of Science, page 97)

3 James Edward Heath, Thermal Synchronization of Emergence in Periodical “17-year” Cicadas (Homoptera, Cicadidae, Magicicada) American Midland Naturalist, Vol. 80, No. 2. (Oct., 1968), pp. 440-448.

4 David C Marshall Periodical Cicada (Homoptera: Cicadidae) Life-Cycle Variations, the Historical Emergence Record, and the Geographic Stability of Brood Distributions. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 94(3): 386Ð399 (2001). Link to website where you can get this document.

5 Information from John Cooley of Magicicada.org, Gene Kritsky, & Roy Troutman, relayed by email.

6 Magicicada Database Query Page.

7 C.L. Marlatt, Thermal Synchronization of Emergence in Periodical “17-year” Cicadas (Homoptera, Cicadidae, Magicicada), United States. Bureau of Entomology, 1889b, (1889). Find this online in the document Some miscellaneous results of the work of the Division of Entomology, III (Archive.org) compiled by United State Division of Entomology in 1889.

* The map is based on this map from the Wikimedia Commons by Lokal_Profil. The data for the map come’s from Magicicada.org.


April 26, 2017

Look & listen for Brood X Stragglers

Filed under: Accelerations,Brood X,Magicicada,Periodical Stragglers — Dan @ 5:33 am

Surprise!

Update #10 Brood X stragglers have emerged in Tennessee (around Knoxville), Washington D.C., Virginia (counties around D.C.), Maryland (counties around D.C.), Ohio (around Cincinnati), Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, & New Jersey (around Princeton)! They are chorusing in many locations, and are likely to produce future generations particularly in the Virginia, DC and Maryland area.

Don’t forget to report cicadas to Magicicada.org.
Feel free to add YouTube or IG links to the comments.
In the Ohio area, send your cicada photos of Mount St. Joseph University.

If you hear them chorus — when they all sing together, listen to the video below — report them to Magicicada.org, and check their map to see what has been reported so far.

Other updates can be found in the comments.

What’s the deal with these amazing insects?

This year “precursors” to Brood X are emerging or will emerge in small to large numbers in D.C., Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York (Long Island), North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. Magicicada.org has the most up-to-date map from Brood X.

Note: because of the significant number of cicadas emerging ahead of time, this might be an acceleration event. Periodical cicada accelerations occur when a significant group of an established brood emerge in years ahead of the main brood, and sometimes the accelerated group are able to reproduce and create what is essentially a new brood. Brood VI was likely part of Brood X at one point of time1. We’ll have to see if the Brood X stragglers are able to survive predation, and reproduce in significant numbers to sustain future populations. They are certainly trying.

Some more info to impress your friends with:

These are the species you might hear/see:

  1. Magicicada septendecim
  2. Magicicada cassini
  3. Magicicada septendecula

Don’t panic! Less that one percent of a Brood straggles. If you had 10,000 cicadas in your yard back in 2004, you can expect a less-frightening or more manageable dozens or hundreds (okay, maybe 1,000s). :)

Here's Johnny

Brood VI is also emerged this year?

Brood VI also emerged this year in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. These cicadas emerged on schedule, and are not stragglers. It is believed that Brood VI descended from Brood X through acceleration (mentioned above).

Brood VI compared to Brood X:
Brood X vs VI
The data comes from Magicicada.org.

What are stragglers, and why do they straggle

Stragglers are periodical cicadas that emerge in years before or after the brood they belong to is expected to emerge. Typically 17-year periodical cicadas emerge 4 years early (see the probability chart). While stragglers might not produce enough offspring to produce future generations, straggling is something periodical cicadas do — it is hard-wired into their DNA. The 4-year interval is also typical.

Stragglers are not a new phenomenon. William T. Davis documented accelerations of cicada populations back in the 1800s, which was reported by C.L. Marlatt in the 1898 document The Periodical Cicada. An Account Of Cicada Septendecim, Its Natural Enemies And The Means Of Preventing Its Injury.

Mr. W. T. Davis records the occurrence of scattering individuals on Staten Island in both 1890 and 1892, neither of which is a Cicada year. These may have been of accelerated or retarded individuals, but possibly represent either remnants of broods or insignificant broods not hitherto recorded.

In the case of W. T. Davis’s observations, Brood II would have emerged in 1894 in Staten Island, so 1890 would have been a 4-year straggler/processor/acceleration, and 1892 a rare 2-year acceleration.

The term “straggler” throws people off, because most people are familiar with the definition of straggler that means “something that falls behind the main group”. These cicadas are clearly ahead of the main group, not falling behind. Straggle can also mean “to wander from the direct course or way” (Merriam-Webster), “to trail off from others of its kind” (Merriam-Webster). In terms of cicadas, scientists and naturalists have been using the term “straggler” for over a century, so it has stuck around. For now, don’t worry about the term, just know that it means periodical cicadas that are not emerging on schedule.

More information on stragglers and accelerations.

Climate and Stragglers

Dr. Gene Kritsky, in this recent article, is quoted as saying “[c]limate changes are behind the premature debut”. Visit Gene’s website.

It makes sense that climate variations would trigger periodical cicadas to emerge ahead of time. Periodical cicadas take cues from the seasonal cycles of their host trees. An unusual climate event, like a hot fall or winter, might cause trees to signal cicadas that additional years have passed, and cause them to shift to emerge early. In the paper, How 17-year cicadas keep track of time, Richard Karban was able to show that you can speed up the time it takes for a periodical cicada to emerge by artificially altering the seasonal cycles of their host trees2. It’s likely that the Brood X stragglers emerging now were set on their path to emerging 4 years early not this year or the last, but many years ago.

Metropolitan areas like Washington D.C., called “HEAT ISLANDS” (read this article), can often be much hotter than surrounding rural areas due to human activity. The effects of living within a heat island may have disrupted the seasonal cycles of the cicadas’s host trees, and therefor the cicadas themselves. Localized climate change will be considered as a contributing factor to their early emergence. If we find considerably less stragglers in rural areas than city areas, then we could draw a conclusion that local climates are contributing to straggling.

Other than climate (in the long term), weather (in the short term), and a natural propensity to straggle or accelerate, population density is another reason why cicadas will straggle. If there is a high density of them underground, vying for limited resources, some might emerge a year or so before or after the main Brood.

References:

1 Monte Lloyd &J o Ann White. Sympatry of Periodical Cicada Broods and the Hypothetical Four-Year Acceleration. Evolution, Vol. 30, No. 4. (Dec., 1976), pp. 786-801.

2 Richard Karban, Carrie A. Black and Steven A. Weinbaum. How 17-year cicadas keep track of time. Ecology Letters, (2000) 3: 253-256.

April 18, 2017

When do cicadas sing?

Filed under: Behavior,Sounds — Dan @ 6:37 am

Most, if not all cicadas sing during the day, but what time of day they sing depends on the species and the weather. There are over 3,000 species of cicadas, and each has its own unique behavior.

Typically, cicadas do not sing at night, but there are exceptions. Most of the time when you hear an insect at night, it’s a cricket or katydid.

Most cicadas love the sun, so rain, and cloudy skies will decrease the likelihood they will sing. Temperature also effects whether or not they will sing. If it is too cold, or too hot cicadas won’t sing. Tolerance for temperature depends on the species.

Cicadas, depending on the species, will sing depending on the number and proximity of other cicadas in their area. Periodical cicadas, when there are enough in a given area, will synchronize their songs forming a chorus (a group effort to attract females).

When they sing during the day, under perfect conditions, depends on the species. Each species has its favorite time to sing, for example, in North America:

  • Neotibicen tibicen, also known as Morning Cicadas, typically sing before noon.
  • Neotibicen latifasciatus, aka Coastal Scissor Grinder Cicada, seem to sing throughout the day, taking breaks during the most brutal sunlight and temperatures.
  • Megatibicen auletes, also know as the Northern Dusk-Singing Cicada, sings for about a half hour around sunset.
  • Periodical cicadas, like Magicicada septendecim, typically sing between 10am and 5pm.

Recapping, when cicadas sing depends on:

  1. The species
  2. The amount of light (sun or artificial)
  3. The amount of cicadas in a given area
  4. Rain, clouds, and other “bad weather”
  5. The temperature

Cicadas can be surprising “rule breakers” so don’t be surprised to hear them when least expected.

More examples and references to come…

April 15, 2017

How do cicadas make sounds / noise

Filed under: Sounds — Dan @ 2:09 pm

Some people hear a cicada sing, and hear a beautiful song, while othes hear an irritating noise. But how do they create the sounds?

Magicicada septendecim tymbal
The ridged organ in this photo is a tymbal, the organ male cicadas use to create their songs.

Cicadas make sounds in quite a few aways: with tymbal organs, wing flicks, wing clicks, and stridulations.

Male cicadas sing using their tymbals

tymbal animation
Muscles tug at it rapidly to create sound vibrations.

Cicadas are best known for the songs the male cicadas sing. They sing using special organs called tymbals. Tymbals are membranes that vibrate very quickly when pulled by tiny muscles. This vibration creates the cicada’s song. Some types of cicadas have exposed tymbals, like Magicicada or Zammara. Some species have hidden tymbals, like Neotibicen, and flex their abdomen to open their tymbal covers to modulate their song.

Each type of song made with tymbals has a different purpose:

  • Alarm/distress calls: “don’t eat me! something is eating me!”
  • Pre-calls: warming up
  • Calls to attract mates and establish a territory
  • Courting calls: calls made once a mate is found.
  • Choruses: when males synchronize their calls to establish chorusing centers and attract females.

Wing flicks and stridulations

Females and males of some species flick their wings to produce a sound similar to the flick of a wall switch. Females use wing flicks to respond to male courting calls, in the case of Magicicada periodical cicadas. Some males of other species use a combination of tymbal song and wing flicks.

Some species of cicadas lack tymbals, like cicadas belonging to the genus Platypedia. They use their wings to make crackling or popping noises known as crepitation. Amphipsalta zelandica of New Zealand use wing-clicks to communicate.

Stridulations: Some cicadas, like Australia’s Green Grocer, possess raspe-like parts of their bodies which when stroked with part of a wing produces yet another type of cicada sound. This type of sound is called a stridulation.

Cyclochila australasiae stridulatory structures

Tettigarcta vibrate the earth

Lastly, some species like those belonging to the genus Tettigarcta vibrate the substrate (soil, plant matter, etc) they live in, rather than vibrating the air.

Which cicada is the loudest?

Filed under: Sounds — Dan @ 1:52 pm

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

Double Drummer (Thopha saccata)
Double Drummer (Thopha saccata), a cicada found in Australia, can reach 120db at close range. Photo by Kevin Lee.

  • The “official” loudest cicada in the world is the Brevisana brevis, a cicada found in Africa. At a distance of 50cm (~20″) B. brevis reaches 106.7 decibels. See the BBC article.
  • Australian species of cicadas, like the Double Drummer (Thopa saccata) are said to exceed 120 deafening decibels at close range.
  • According to the University of Florida Book of Insect Records, the Neotibicen pronotalis [aka walkeri] is the loudest cicada in North America, and can achieve 108.9 decibels.
  • Personally, I’ve observed Magicicada cassini choruses achieve between 85 & 86 decibels (link to video), and M. cassini responding to fingersnaps (mimics female wing flicks) at as high as 116 db (link to video) 35s in). The 116db level was recorded with the insect standing on the microphone of my Extech 407730. Magicicada choruses have been documented to reach 100 dB.

People use a variety of criteria to judge the loudness of cicadas. Brevisana brevis is the current official record holder. We should use the distance, equipment, calibrations and weather conditions used for that measurement for all cicadas.

One of the reasons why people want to know how loud cicadas can get is fear of hearing loss. Looking at the CDC website, a Magicicada chorus falls in the range of a noisy cafeteria — which doesn’t appear to be harmful in the short term. A cicada applied directly to the ear (do not do that) gets in the range of a loud rock concert and ambulance siren, which will cause hearing damage. Again, do not put cicadas in or around your ears.

Yes. Male cicadas use their opercula (flaps on their abdomen) to cover their tympana (the cicadas hearing organs) when they sing, so they don’t damage their own hearing. Cicadas — male and female — listen with their tympana.

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