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July 17, 2014

A Week of Mapping the Mysterious Ohio Kentucky Brood

Update: After emailing with Dave Marshall and John Cooley today (July, 17th), I learned that the ‘decim cicadas in this brood are Magicicada tredecim (not neotredecim), based on their lower-pitched sound and very-orange abdomens! This means that this brood is not related to Brood XIV or X at all, that these cicadas are truly 13-year cicadas, they might be related to Brood XXII and perhaps were once part of the same larger brood thousands of years ago.

Read on:

Back in 2013 Roy Troutman and his wife Michelle visited me in New Jersey to experience the Brood II cicada emergence. At that time, Roy extended an invitation to visit Ohio in 2014 to experience & map a mysterious brood that emerges every thirteen years near his family campsite. A year later, I took him up on his offer.

Magicicada tredecim Ohio 2014 caught by Roy Troutman
A very orange M. tredecim found by Roy in Ohio.

On June 1st I made the long drive from the Jersey Shore to south-west Ohio. The trip went smoothly, thanks to a well maintained car, a flash drive filled with 37 Gig of music, Red Bull, Monster Energy Drinks, some M&M candies and a tank and a half of gas. Sunday night I met Roy at his family home. After a quick dinner, we immediately went looking for cicadas in Point Pleasant, Ohio. Most of the cicadas had emerged from the ground a week or two ago, but we were able to find a few newly emerged specimens:

The following morning we visited the Crooked Run-Robert J. Paul Memorial Sanctuary in Chilo, Ohio, which is primarily a hardwood forrest along the Ohio River. The nature sanctuary was loaded with Magicicada tredecassini, healthy pockets of M. tredecula and a few M. tredecim. The cicadas were chorusing, feisty and already ovipositing (laying eggs).

So, why spend a week researching cicadas? Why ride in a car for dozens of hours tracking the locations of cicadas? Well, this mysterious Ohio & Kentucky brood is unique, and this would be the first time it was thoroughly mapped.

Why is this Ohio Kentucky brood unique?

  1. These cicadas have a 13-year life cycle. No other brood of periodical cicadas in Ohio has a 13-year life cycle. Note that two 13-year broods (XIX & XXIII) exist in Kentucky, but they are geographically isolated from the OH/KY brood.
  2. The OH/KY brood is also geographically isolated from Brood XXII, a brood of 13-year cicadas that emerged in Louisiana and Mississippi this year (2014). The OH/KY brood might be grouped with Brood XXII just by virtue of the fact that they emerge in the same cycle of years, but the two broods seem to be too far apart, geographically and probably genetically, to be related.
  3. They occupy a relatively small area of south-western Ohio, and north-central Kentucky.
  4. They are in relatively the same area as two 17-year broods, Brood XIV and Brood X. Brood XIV more so than Brood X.

The mystery is: why does this small, isolated brood of 13-year cicadas exist?

Roy Troutman and John Cooley have collected specimens, and the insects genetics will be studied to try to find an answer. Along with the results of genetic testing, the results of mapping will be considered, along with the past work of researchers like Lloyd and White, and local legend Gene Kritsky.

Mapping cicadas:

Mapping cicadas requires that you drive hundreds to thousands of miles, listening for cicadas, and recording the species and location. The hard parts are 1) picking out the individual species (particularly hearing individual deculas in the midst of loud chorus of cassini), and 2) driving slow enough to hear the individual species, without enraging local drivers. Discerning the songs of individual species is easy enough when you’re moving slowly or standing still, but at 55mph, you can hear the roar of a cassini chorus, but a more subtle ‘decim chorus, set deeper in the woods, will go unheard.

Thanks to John Cooley’s Map O Matic — a combination of a tiny laptop, Ubuntu Linux, a numeric keypad, a GPS puck, and some clever programming — marking the locations of Magicicada species is now a simple task. Drive around, and when you hear a heavy ‘decim chorus, you hit the 9 key, and the location is recorded. Hear a ‘cassini individual; hit a 4, and the location is recorded. Genius. I suppose the next best thing would be an app version.

cicada track o matic
The Cicada Map O Matic

Each day Roy planned the route and we started mapping. Roy driving; me pressing buttons. We traveled highways, and single-laned roads; through heavily populated suburbia with convenience stores selling Pork cracklings and fireworks, as well as, farm and forrest roads. Straight and fast. Winding and bumpy. Each day was amazing road trip for the sake of cicada research.

Mapping can be frustrating. Time limitations are frustrating. The cicadas only sing for a few weeks, so there is only so much time to hear and map them.

Google Maps, often used to visualize cicada mapping data, is frustrating as well. Google maps omits unincorporated towns and villages from their maps. Want to find Utopia, Ohio on Google Maps? According to Google Maps, it doesn’t exist.

Also, if you use an old map, beware; a road that existed 10 years ago, might now be a rocky field. One time we headed down a dusty road that looked like it connected to a major county road. Instead, Roy ended up breaking some part of his car on some bowling ball sized rocks, which I had to get out and move so we could backtrack to civilization. One positive: while rolling boulders, I heard an individual Magicicada tredecim, which are rare in this brood. Hit the 7 on the cicada Map O Matic.

The data from all this cicada mapping will be used by cicada researchers like Gene Kritsky and John Cooley to decode the mystery of this brood. If you’re curious, you can see the map here, or take a look at this short video, which crudely demonstrates the geographic proximity of Brood XIV, the OH/KY Brood and Brood X:

My trip to Ohio and Kentucky, was fantastic. I got to spend dozens of hours helping to map an important brood, hang out with a good friend, and even meet cicada research legend Gene Kritsky for breakfast. For a cicada fanatic, it doesn’t get much better.

M tredecassini Kentucky 2014
A Magicicada tredecassini found in Kincaid Park, Kentucky.

I had such a good time, I headed home via Kentucky (which is not the way to go, if you’re going back to New Jersey). I stopped by Kincaid Park so I could hear all three species in one location. I even drove down the shoe road, and visited the Jim Beam distillery (which has little to do with cicadas, but why not).

After spending a week mapping cicadas, my respect for cicada researchers like Gene, John, Roy, Chris Simon, David Marshall and Jin Yoshimura has grown measurably. Mapping is not easy. It takes concentration, patience, a lot of expensive gasoline, and energy drinks. It’s worth it though. Hopefully I’ll get to do it again next year as well.

June 19, 2014

Brood XXII, the Baton Rouge Brood, will arrive in 2014

Filed under: Brood XXII,Magicicada,Periodical — by @ 12:26 am

Magicicada Brood XXII, the Baton Rouge Brood, has started to emerge in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Update June 19: Signs of flagging from cicada egg laying are showing up.

Update (5/23): with folks reporting in from both Louisiana and Mississippi, it’s fair to say the emergence is in full swing. Go out and enjoy them while they’re still around.

Update (5/13): we’ve heard the first report that the cicadas have started singing! In Denham Springs, at least.

Update (5/5): the first confirmed Magicicada exuvia (shells/skins) have been found, as reported by Dave Marshall. It’s been a slow start thanks to a cold spring and cool soil temperatures.

Update (4/26): the first sightings have appeared on Magicicada.org. If you see (or heard) one of these cicadas, report it. And then share it via Twitter, YouTube, Flickr or Facebook so we can all check it out.

Some Brood XXII facts:

  • Brood XXII Magicicadas have a 13-year life cycle.
  • Three of the four 13-year Magicicada species, M. tredecim, M. tredecassini, and M. tredecula, belong to Brood XXII.
  • The last time Brood XXII emerged was 2001.
  • We received reports from Baton Rouge, LA, Houma, LA, Pride, LA, Weyanoke, LA, Vicksburg, MS and Natchez, MS in 2001


View Brood XXII Cicada Reports from 2001 in a larger map

Looking at the Cicada Central Magicicada Database:

  • The following parishes in Louisiana will surely experience the Brood XXII emergence: Catahoula, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, West Feliciana. There are also literature records (typically older, and not substantiated by recent evidence) that the cicadas will appear in La Salle, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington parishes.
  • In Mississippi, Brood XXII should emerge in Adams, Amite, Claiborne, Hinds, Jefferson, Warren and Wilkinson counties, with literature records for Franklin county.

A lot of folks ask if they will appear in Orleans parish, but I haven’t seen evidence for that. However, there is no reason why you couldn’t start looking there, have some gumbo and fancy drinks, and then head north towards Baton Rouge.

These cicadas often appear where they aren’t expected, and are absent where they are expected. So, keep an eye and ear out for them, but don’t be too disappointed if they don’t show up in your town.

Please report your sightings to Magicicada.org, which will add your sighting to their map.

If you want to share photos or video, you can leave a link to the video (Youtube, Vimeo) or image (via a shared Flickr, Twitter, Facebook or Google+ URL) in the comments.

June 18, 2014

Brood III, The Iowan Brood, Will Emerge in 2014

Filed under: Brood III,Magicicada,Periodical — by @ 1:03 am

Magicicada Brood III (3), the Iowan Brood, will emerge in Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri, in the spring of 2014.

Update for 6/18: It has been great to see so many people are enjoying the emergence. I bolded the names of the counties below, where people have reported emergences in the comments.

Update for 5/31: Cicadas have been reported in Dallas, Union, and Warren counties in Iowa, and Mercer county in Missouri.

Update for 5/30: Greg Holmes reported on the Entomological-Cicadidae Yahoo Group that Donald Lewis, entomologist at Iowa State University, has a report of periodical cicadas from north of Burlington, IA. With air temperatures in the mid 80s for the next 6 days, the soil should be warm enough to coax more cicadas from the ground. Rain may slow the emergence, though.

Some Brood III facts:

  • Brood III Magicicadas have a 17-year life cycle.
  • The last time Brood III emerged was 1997.
  • All three 17-year species will emerge: M. septendecim, M. cassini, and M. septendecula.

Brood III Map - next emergence 2014

Looking a the Cicada Central Magicicada Database:

  • Iowa will likely experience Brood III in Appanoose, Boone, Decatur, Des Moines, Hamilton, Henry, Lee, Louisa, Lucas, Mahaska, Van Buren, Washington counties.
  • There are literature records (typically older, and not substantiated by recent evidence) that the cicadas will also emerge in the counties: Adair, Adams, Audubon, Cass, Cedar, Davis, Greene, Guthrie, Iowa, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Keokuk, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Monroe, Muscatine, Polk, Poweshiek, Ringgold, Story, Taylor, Union, Wapello, Warren, Wayne and Webster.
  • Plus reports from Clarke, Dallas County!
  • Missouri literature records: Adair, Harrison, Harrison, Henry, Johnson, Lewis, Macon, Marion, Platte, Putnam,Vernon
  • Illinois: Adams, Brown, Cass, Fulton, Hancock, Henderson, Knox, McDonough, Peoria, Pike, Schuyler, Warren, and maybe (literature records) Champaign, Greene, and Mason.

Please submit your sightings to Magicicada.org.

June 5, 2014

13-Year Cicadas to Emerge in Ohio & Kentucky in 2014

Magicicadas with a 13-Year life-cycle are emerging in Ohio & Kentucky, along the Ohio river, in 2014. This particular group of periodical cicadas last emerged in 2001 and 1988.

July 17th: I got confirmation from Dave Marshall and John Cooley that the ‘decim in the brood are Magicicada tredecim!

June 5th: Roy Troutman and I completed 3 days of cicada mapping in Ohio and Kentucky. This map includes our findings, Gene Kritsky’s findings and sightings submitted to Gene from local residents.

If you see or hear a cicada in the area, here’s what to do:


If you see these cicadas in Ohio or Kentucky, don’t forget to send your Geo-Tagged cellphone photos to Gene Kritsky and map your sighting on Magicicada.org.

June 4th: Audio of a Magicicada tredecula call from the Ohio/Kentucky brood.

June 3rd: I spent the last last two days looking for cicadas in Ohio and Kentucky with Roy Troutman. Mostly ‘cassini, some ‘decula, and a very small amount of ‘decims. We found ‘cassini chorusing in Mason, KY, in the west, and so far as south as Neurls Run, KY. JoAnn White & Monte Lloyd’s paper 17-Year cicadas emerging after 18 years: A new brood?1 mentioned emergences in the Mason location, going back to 1975 (three 13 year generations ago).

Mason

May 31th: Cicadas are reported to be “loud and plentiful” in the Germantown KY area, as well as, Harrison county KY.

May 30th: Roy Troutman confirmed that ‘decula, ‘cassini and ‘decim type Magicicada have emerged in Ohio.

2014 Ohio M tredecassini adult on leaf by Roy Troutman

May 23th: Gene Kritsky wrote to let us know that “the emergence is now in full swing” in Ohio and Kentucky. Roy also shared a photo of an adult 13 year cicada.

May 15th: Roy Troutman sent us a set of photos from Crooked Run Nature Preserve in Chilo, Ohio.

13 Year Nymph by Roy Troutman taken in Chilo Ohio in 2014 on tree

May 14th: Roy Troutman has reported that the emergence began last night in Chilo, OH according to a Clermont County Parks director. Cool weather this week (in the thirties!) will likely prevent more cicadas from emerging until next week (highs in 80s).

April 30th: Scientists ask for public’s help verifying cicadas hidden brood. Note: if you send your photos in to Dr. Kritsky, make sure Geo-Tag (Android) or Camera Location Services (iPhone) is turned on.

April 28th: Roy Troutman discovered cicada turrets, confirming the 2014 emergence of these cicadas.

More:

I know what you’re thinking: are these cicadas part of Brood XXII? Time and research will tell. Brood XXII emerges in Louisiana and Mississippi, which are geographically isolated from Ohio & Kentucky, so the two groups of cicadas are likely to be genetically distinct (belonging to different mitochondrial haplotype groups at least). That said, Brood II, which emerges mostly along the east coast of the U.S., also emerges in Oklahoma, which is geographically isolated from the rest of that brood. So, the Ohio/Kentucky cicadas could logically be part of brood XXII.

Back in 2001 Roy Troutman, Les Daniels and Gene Kritsky reported this group of cicadas to Cicada Mania. Les reported both cassini and decim.

My guess is these cicadas are somehow descended from Brood X or Brood XIV 17-year cicadas, and that if they are 13-year cicadas.

I wrote Roy for a list of towns where these cicadas emerged in 2001, and he said:

Chilo, OH
Cold Springs, KY
Higginsport, OH
Neville, OH
New Richmond, OH
Point Pleasant, OH
Ripley, OH
Utopia, OH
Woodland Mound Park, Cinncinati, OH


View OH/KY 13 Year Brood in a larger map

Check out the paper 1 White, J., and M. Lloyd. 1979. 17-Year cicadas emerging after 18 years: A new brood? Evolution 33:1193-1199. It was the first to document this odd brood of cicadas, although it did not mention the 13 year periodicity.

April 28, 2014

Periodical Cicada Turrets Spotted in Chilo, OH

Filed under: Brood OHKY,Magicicada,Periodical,Roy Troutman — by @ 7:48 pm

Roy Troutman spotted and photographed periodical cicada turrets in Chilo Lock 34 Park in Chilo, OH. We expect 13 year cicadas to emerge in Ohio and Kentucky this year, and this is proof it will happen.

Chilo Lock 34 Park

This group of cicadas is not officially aligned with a Brood, but given enough research, documentation and population samples, I imagine they’ll be aligned with Brood XXII (although they might be genetically different from the cicadas in LA and MS). TBD.

April 15, 2014

Cicada Beer and Brood XXII

Filed under: Brood XXII,Pop Culture — by @ 4:18 am

Southern Prohibition Brewing is offering Cicada themed (but not flavored) beer this year. Just in time for Brood XXII.

Cicada Beer

Their site says cicadas are their favorite “invasive species”, but cicadas are not an invasive species, however it can feel like an invasion when periodical cicadas arrive.

BTW, here’s the first news article about Brood XXII I’ve found. It’s from the LSU AgCenter and features Christopher Carlton, LSU AgCenter entomologist and director of the Louisiana State Arthropod Museum.

No signs of Brood XXII cicadas on social media yet.

March 18, 2014

Time to start looking for signs of cicadas in Louisiana

Filed under: Brood XXII,Magicicada,Video — by @ 6:54 pm

It’s too early for Brood XXII cicadas to emerge in Louisiana and Mississippi, but it might be warm enough for them to start moving around underground. It will be warm enough in the coming weeks for them to start digging tunnels to the surface and building cicada “chimneys” above their holes.

What to look for:

1) Animals can hear the cicadas stirring underground, and will try to dig them up and eat them. Look for holes (about the size of a walnut or larger) made by animals digging for cicadas.

Cicada holes

2) Look for cicadas under stones and slates. Some cicadas will burrow their way to the surface, but they hit a large stone or slate and can go no further.

If you find them in this situation, gently put the stone or slate back. They will usually find their way around the obstruction once the time is right.

One clue that a Magicicada nymph is not ready to emerge is their eyes are still white. Their eyes turn red/orange prior to emerging (a few retain a white/blue color).

3) Cicada holes are about the size of a dime. Cicada premptively dig holes to the surface and wait until the weather is nice enough for them to emerge. Sometimes you can see them down in the holes.

Cicada Holes

4) Cicadas form chimneys above their holes when the soil is moist or muddy. These chimneys might look like a simple golf ball sized dome or a structure over six inches tall.

Magicicada chimneys

cicada chimney

Cicadas typically won’t emerge until the soil 8 inches below the ground reaches 65ºF, and just one day at that temperature might not be enough. Once the above ground temps hit the 80s, especially after a nice rain, the emergence should get going.

Report cicada sightings to Magicicada.org.

December 22, 2013

M. cassini in Connecticut

Filed under: Brood II,Magicicada,Periodical — Tags: — by @ 5:53 pm

A news story came out in November reporting that M. cassini appeared in areas of Connecticut where they were not expected during the Brood II emergence this year. This must have been a 2013 highlight for cicada researchers in the Connecticut area.

October 11, 2013

Looking forward to the 2014 periodical cicada emergences

Magicicada I am excited about the 17 and 13 year cicada emergences expected in 2014.

Here is what we can look forward to:

I’m looking forward to taking some vacation time and tracking cicadas. Brood XXII is a good excuse to visit New Orleans (even if it isn’t on the cicada map).

Fun fact: Brood III and XXII won’t emerge in the same year again until the year 2235.

If you see any periodical cicadas, especially stragglers, report then to magicicada.org.

A look back at the 2013 Brood II Periodical Cicada Emergence

Filed under: Brood II,Magicicada,Periodical,Video — by @ 10:03 pm

2013 has been an awesome year for cicadas. Here’s a look back at my favorite Brood II moments.

  1. My 17 Year Cicada sneakers: nikeid
  2. The They’re Baaack! Return of the 17-year Cicadas exhibit at The Staten Island Museum.
  3. Meeting Ed Johnson of the Staten Island Museum.
  4. This cicada pillow by Tegan White, that my friends Judie and Cliff gave me.
  5. Being interviewed by and appearing in Wired Magazine.
  6. My Cicada Mania pins and magnets that I hand out to people I meet in person.
  7. This April Fools Day joke (that no one believed).
  8. Hipster Cicada
    hipster cicada
  9. Cicada Ron Swanson
    Cicada Ron Swanson
  10. Keep Calm, They’re only 17 Year Cicadas
    Keep Calm
  11. Getting 7,500 visits from Reddit in a single day (April 7th).
  12. Finding the first nymph on April 16th under a garden slate, not ready to emerge.
  13. Finding the first cicada chimneys on May 10th.
  14. Giving a presentation about cicadas at musician/naturalist/philosopher/professor David Rothenberg’s “Richard Robinson: Song of the Cicada (World Premiere), Insect Music, based on the calls, chirps and clicks of various insects” event in New York City.
  15. Finding and photographing Magicicada septendecula, thanks to Elias Bonaro’s keen hearing.
  16. My sister’s chihuahua discovering a cicada nymph.
    chihuahua cicada
  17. Cicada tracking in New York state.
  18. An interview with Sonja Beeker of the German radio program Neonlicht.
  19. The Oklahoma Brood II emergence. A lot of us didn’t expect it, but Oklahoma residents did. Add another state to the Brood II map!
  20. Shooting lots of cicada video for the site
  21. Observing the Magicicada cassini’s “musical chairs” calling and flying routine, captured in this photo by Roy Troutman.
  22. Having Roy and Michelle Troutman visit New Jersey (I think Michelle enjoyed the beach more than the cicadas).
  23. Going cicada hunting with Roy Troutman and Elias Bonaros.
    Roy Troutman and Elias Bonaros near cicada mosiac in subway
  24. The Joy of Six Legged Sex event at the Staten Island Museum, featuring John Cooley and Ed Johnson. Roy, Michelle, Elias and David Rothenberg were also in attendance.
    John Cooley and Ed Johnson speaking at the Staten Island Museum Six Legged Sex event by Roy Troutman
  25. Going cicada hunting in Staten Island with Elias and Chris Simon.
  26. Going cicada hunting with John Cooley, David Rothenberg, and a crew from the New York Times, and ending up at my folk’s place in Metuchen.
  27. Fighting back against companies that sell pesticide to kill cicadas.
  28. Discovering that the periodical cicadas along the shore of Staten Island survived Superstorm Sandy.
  29. Meeting cicada filmmaker Sam Orr.
  30. All the reports, comments, Tweets, and cicada photos sent to us by Cicada Mania readers. You make it all worthwhile.
  31. The Finneytown, Ohio acceleration… technically not Brood II, but…
  32. All the cool cicada citizen science opportunities presented by magicicada.org, the Simon Lab, the Urban Buzz Project, Gene Kritsky and Radiolab.

I’m looking forward to the Brood III and XXII emergences next year, but I don’t know if they’ll be as fun as Brood II 2013.

17 year cicadas y u no?

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