Cicada Mania

Dedicated to cicadas, the most amazing insects in the world.

Buy a Cicada T-shirt, Mug, or Hat!

June 25, 2016

My 2016 Brood V Experience

Filed under: Brood V,John Cooley,Magicicada,Matt Berger,Periodical — Dan @ 11:20 am

Magicicada exuvia on an oak leaf
Many exuvia clinging to oak leaves. Core Arboretum, WVU.

My plan was to check out Maryland first, then head to West Virginia for a few days, and then Ohio. If weather, time and patience allowed, Virginia and Long Island, New York. Like all my periodical cicada trips I start by consulting the map on Magicicada.org to see where folks are finding cicadas. I also consult with the folks who study periodical cicadas professionally to discover their favorite hot spots and any locations of particular scientific interest. This year, the interesting spot was north-western Maryland — more on that later.

Here’s my own map of my journey in terms of the places I saw/heard cicadas. Generally speaking, you’ll see a lot of pin-drops for Magicicada cassini on the map. This is because you can hear them while driving at 70mph. You often have to stop your car and turn off the engine to hear the other species, so even though there’s lots of M. cassini on the map, there’s probably just as much M. septendecim. Generally speaking, my mapping methodology works like this: I stop and take notes when I can (usually at rest stops, parks or when I’m staying in a particular town — see Morgantown & Athens later in the article) and this is when I’ll hear M. septendecim & M. septendecula, but when I’m driving interstate highways at high speeds (with a parade of angry drivers who would rather tailgate me that use the left lane to go around me) I can only take data points for M. cassini.

What do I bring with me on a seven day cicada road trip? Aside from clothes, road food, smartphone, and my AAA card, I bring equipment to aide my study of cicadas:

  • A junk computer. A decrepit laptop that I won’t care if it gets stolen.
  • A video camera.
  • A device for measuring sound level (decibels).
  • A notepad and pen (because technology fails).
  • Butterfly pavilions, which are these expandable enclosures for holding and observing insects.
  • Containers for holding dead specimens, and silica gel to keep them dry. Note: before you collect, make sure it is legal in the location you plan to collect. Collecting wildlife from National Parks is illegal. Collecting cicadas from a Hampton Inn parking lot is usually okay.
  • Suntan lotion and Bug Spray. I like insects, but ticks and mosquitos can turn cicada observation into a nightmare. Many researchers wear pyrethrum treated clothes (yes, bad for cats).
  • A flashlight.
  • Cicada Mania pins for folks I meet along the way.

What I don’t bring but should is one of John Cooley’s Cicada O Matic GPS Dataloggers. I have to make observations by hand.

Other than that, I follow the typical Power Vacation rules.

Maryland Part 1:

The first town I hit was Accident, Maryland (great name). There were sightings on the Magicicada.org map, and the name of the town was awesome, so I wanted to check it out. Unfortunately I didn’t observe any cicadas there.

Route 68, West Virginia

Traveling west along Route 68, about half-way between the center of Bruceton Mills and Coopers Rock State Forest I started to hear pockets of M. cassini. I stopped at Coopers Rock, and at first I was disappointed: I didn’t hear any cicadas from my car. Once I stopped my car and turned off the engine I could hear them: M. septendecim with their spooky sci-fi UFO chorus in the distance. It became obvious that the park had a healthy population of M. septendecim, with a smattering of M. cassini as well.

Morgantown, WV

Next I arrived at Morgantown, WV. Some twitter friends had been posting cicada photos from there, so I thought it would be a good location to set up base and make observations for a few days. The hotel I chose had an excellent population of M. septedecim and cassini around it; so much so that the staff couldn’t keep up with unwanted cicada guests that littered their doorway, trampled by oblivious human guests.

My first day there I walked around the West Virginia University campus near the hospital, stadium & iHop. The sky was overcast and it was getting late in the afternoon, but it was clear that the campus and town had an abundance of periodical cicadas, and that I made a good choice in setting up camp there. At night, in my hotel parking lot, I was able to watch cicadas emerge as nymphs as transform into adults, which is always a highlight of an emergence for me.

WVU Core Arboretum

Core Arboretum is a large botanical garden devoted to trees (“arbor”) on the WVU campus. It was an excellent place to observe cicadas. I was able to observe all three species, the tiny but LOUD M. cassini, the larger & relatively docile M. septendecim, and the rarest of the species M. septendecula. Finding M. septendecula so early in my trip was a treat. Their clockwork/tambourine sound (at least that’s what I think they sound like) gave them away.

I met entomologists Matt Berger, who has contributed many cicada photos to this site over the years, and his colleague HereBeSpiders11 (twitter name). Awesome people. I met Zachariah Fowler, the director of the arboretum as well. Another awesome person.

Magicicada white eyes 3
A white-eyed Magicicada septendecim.

I was able to check off many of my cicada checklist items in Morgantown: I found a white-eyed cicada, I saw & heard all three species, and more.

Leaving West Virginia, Entering Ohio

M. cassini were plentiful along route 79 and 50 headed west towards Athens, Ohio. Along the way I made a few stops and heard & observed some M. septendecim as well.

Athens, Ohio

Athens was another good location to stay and observe cicadas. The parks in the surrounding area had excellent cicada populations, and I had a rare chance to meet John Cooley of Magicicada.org.

My first day in Athens I spent at Dow Lake in Strouds Run State Park. There I met John Cooley who was there showing a German film crew the particulars of cicada behavior. Dow Lake had a healthy mix of LOUD M. cassini and M. septendecim, but the cassini definitely dominated. The highlight for me was not a cicada, but spotting a rat snake climbing down from an acacia tree where it was no-doubt snacking on cicadas.

Sells Park in Athens was a nice place to hear VERY LOUD M. cassini choruses, well into the high 80-90db mark. So loud that I limited by time there, and left after an hour.

Hocking Hills

Hocking Hills is an amazing park north of Athens than features a spectacular above-ground cave and many acres of forest filled with cicadas. Hocking Hills had a good population of all three species, and M. septendecula were unusually easy to find. They seem to have preferred areas where deciduous trees blended with evergreens, at least in the locations I found.

Vinton Furnace Experimental Forest

A Magicicada cassini chorus from the Experimental Forest:

A Magicicada chorus with audible M. septendecula from the Experimental Forest:

Vinton Furnace Experimental Forest is a forest curated to include as much biological diversity as possible. All three periodical cicada species make up part of that diversity. M. septendcula choruses were very easy to find. The forest was thrilling to visit — aside from the biting deer flies, it was exhilarating to see or hear so many species of insects, birds and plants in one place. Also, thrilling were the winding one-lane dirt roads; I almost died a few times thanks to wild drivers out for a pretend Finland Rally race.

Back to Maryland

After an overnight stop back in Morgantown, WV, I headed back to Maryland to prove (or disprove) that periodical cicadas were there, and if I did find them, the extent of their population. It is important to show the limits of their population as researchers (John Cooley in particular) are interesting in demonstrating that the Brood V population in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia & Maryland is distinct from the population in Virginia.

I’m happy to report that I did find periodical cicadas in Maryland. The populations were mostly the relatively quieter M. septendecim — the type you really have to stop the car & turn off the engine to be certain they’re there. I did find M. cassini as well, but M. septendecim dominated. The adorably named Friendsville and Selbysport had good populations, as did the hill above the Youghioghheny river overlook rest stop on I68. South of this area, I did not hear or see cicadas on Bear Creek Road, Rt 42, rt 219 or rt 495. It is possible there are pockets of cicadas deep in the woods and out of earshot in those areas, but it is clear there was no great population of periodical cicadas in those areas, if any at all. I spoke to a chainsaw bear sculptor in Bittinger, which is not far from where the Appalachian Plateau ends & the Ridge and Valley area starts. I showed him a photo of a periodical cicada. He said he had never seen them in his life, and nor did he see them in Accident where he went to church. He did hear about them on the news, so he was aware of them.

Maryland

Pennsylvania, and home

After collecting cicada data and buying a chainsaw bear, I headed north into Pennsylvania. I stopped at a rest stop, enjoyed the last I would hear of Brood V, and headed back home.

More!

June 22, 2016

Jim Thorpe Pennsylvania Magicicada Emergence

Filed under: Brood V,Brood XIV,Magicicada,Periodical — Dan @ 9:12 pm

There was an unexpected* emergence of periodical cicadas in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania this spring. Experts believe it is a disjunct brood related to Brood XIV. Brood XIV is found in the area, according to entomologist and Pennsylvania-based periodical cicada mapper Marten Edwards, but perhaps not in the exact same specific locations. Brood II is also in the area, but on the other side of the mountain. Although this group of cicadas emerged the same year as Brood V, it probably is not related (genetically & evolutionary), but that is TBD.

The terrain of the Jim Thorpe area is comprised of mountains & valleys belonging to the Appalachian Mountain system of the Eastern United States. I observed cicadas on mountain sides and in lower valley areas. They seemed most plentiful and gregarious on the edges of the forest, preferring small, young maple trees where they gathered, sang, paired off, mated and died. Although their numbers were lesser deep in the woods, I did find exit holes and exuvia there. The most interesting discovery was finding a fully sclerotized, but dead, adult cicada within an overturned tea cup left in the shade of an old tree. I discovered a few “cicada chimneys”, vertical structures made of soil surrounding exit holes, under pine trees where the cicadas seemed to need to extra hight to get above the thick layer of pine needles that littered the forest floor.

The best populations seemed to be along the Lehigh Gorge Trail from its entrance on Main Street to the Lehigh Gorge, and north, up the mountain the Lehigh Gorge Trail circumscribes, all the way to to Lehigh Gorge Drive. The trees along Route 903, starting at Old Pipeline Road and heading south, were loaded with active cicadas — so many, that it was hard to avoid their flying bodies as I drove towards downtown Jim Thorpe.

Here is a map of where I saw them. If you want to see them, go this weekend (June 24-26). They were plentiful in the Lehigh Gorge area:
Lehigh Gorge

The population seems to be entirely made up of Magicicada septendecim. No Magicicada cassini or septendecula were found (so far).

A Carolina Grasshopper (Dissosteira carolina) next to a “Locust” (Magicicada septendecim).
Grasshopper and Cicada
More photos from this emergence in the gallery.

Locals were calling them “Locusts” — sometimes I forget that’s what folks call them, but of course they’re really cicadas.

Sound files: all are Magicicada septendecim

A single call:

A Spectrogram of its call:

Magicicada septedecim spectrogram

Multiple males calling:

An extra-weird call around 11-12 seconds:

You can here some wing flicks in this one:

*Unexpected as cicada researchers were not expecting it, but locals probably knew about it.

June 15, 2016

Periodical cicada photos and video from Brood V

Filed under: Brood V,Magicicada,Matt Berger,Periodical,Video — Dan @ 6:30 pm

I took a lot of cicada photos and video when I traveled to Maryland, West Virginia and Ohio. Matt Berger also contributed a gallery of cicada photos to the site.

70 Periodical Cicada Photos.

A sample of the photos:

Red and Orange eyes 1

Magicicada white eyes 3

Magicicada exuvia on an oak leaf

Photos of the Brood V emergence by Matt Berger.

A sample of the photos:

Gray Eyed Cicada Up Close by Matt Berger

A Variety of Eye Colors by Matt Berger

Molting Cicada 4 by Matt Berger

Molting Cicadas:

Magicicada with White Eyes:

More videos.

May 21, 2016

Brood V 17-Year Cicadas Due in Spring of 2016

Filed under: Brood V,Magicicada,Periodical — Dan @ 7:00 pm

Brood VBrood V (5) 17-year cicadas have emerged, this spring of 2016, in Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia & West Virginia.

Latest Updates:
(6/26/16): By now you should see (and hear) sharp declines in cicada populations. They’ll be gone in most places by July 4th. You should start to see Flagging of tree limbs where the cicadas lay their eggs. This is a natural part of the process.

New: Use our checklist to keep track of your Brood V experience!

Gene Kritsky has updated his book “In Your Backyard: Periodical Cicadas“. It is available for the low price of $4.99 for Kindle and Kindle readers. Totally worth it.

About Brood V:

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.

When: Generally speaking, these cicadas will begin to emerge when the soil 8″ beneath the ground reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit. 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.

Locations where they are likely to emerge:

This data comes from the Cicada Central Magicicada Database and other sources.

Although the cicadas will emerge in MD, NY, OH, PA, VA and WV, the area is limited and patchy. No Brood V cicadas for D.C., Cincinnati, or NYC (people have asked). Their range is closer to this map (with cicadas in the orange areas):

Brood V range

Maryland:

Counties: Garrett.

New York:

Specific locations in L.I.:

  • Wildwood State Park – Confirmed!

Counties: Suffolk (Long Island).

Ohio:

Specific locations in Ohio:

  • The emergence should be good in the south eastern part of the state and in Summit, Medina, and southern Cuyahoga counties1.
  • Hocking State Forest, Hocking county, which is where James Edward Heath performed his investigation of periodical cicada Thermal Synchronization2.
  • Tar Hollow State Forest, in Laurelville, Hocking County, Ohio.
  • Strouds Run State Park, in Canaan Township, Athens County.
  • Athens, Athens County, Ohio
  • Findley State Park, Lorain County, Ohio.

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

Thanks to Roy Troutman, John Cooley, Chris Simon and Gene Kritsky for the tips!

Pennsylvania:

Counties: Allegheny, Fayette, Greene, Somerset, Washington, Westmoreland

Virginia:

Specific locations in Virginia:

  • Douthat State Park, in Bath & Allegheny County Virginia.

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

West Virginia:

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

Learn more about Brood V:

Learn More:

Watch a cicada emerge from its skin

A whole lot of cicada nymphs

1 Kritsky, G., J. Smith, and N. T. Gallagher. 1999. The 1999 emergence of the periodical cicada in Ohio (Homoptera: Cicadidae: Magicicada spp. Brood V). Ohio Biological Survey Notes 2:43-47.

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

* The map is based on this map from the Wikimedia Commons by Lokal_Profil.

April 30, 2016

Brood V Periodical Cicada Molting

Filed under: Brood V,Matt Berger — Dan @ 3:23 pm

Frequent Cicada Mania contributor Matt Berger sent us these video clips of a periodical cicada molting and expanding its wings. Enjoy:

If you find a nymph, and bring it inside, it will likely molt.

February 7, 2016

The Periodical Cicada Brood VII Revisited

Filed under: Brood VII,Magicicada,Periodical — Dan @ 9:22 pm

The Internet Archive has a lot of cicada documents and information, including a growing collection of articles from journals.

Today I came across a paper about Brood VII called The Periodical Cicada Brood vii Revisited (Homoptera, Cicadidae) by L. L. Pechuman, published in 1985 in the journal Entomology News (link to the article). Brood VII will be back in New York in 2018 (not too far away) so I’m glad I found this now. Brood VII is interesting because it is geographically isolated from other broods, near the Finger Lakes area of New York. This always makes me wonder what happened that led to their isolation (glacial melting, a massive die off of host trees… who knows).

The article is a quick, but melancholy read — unfortunately Brood VII is a small and dwindling brood; it has gone extinct in many areas, and has suffered over-predation by birds in recent emergences. “Populations were just not high enough to support ‘predator satiation'”, according to L. L. Pechuman.

People who witness massive periodical cicada emergences would never think that they were a fragile insect, but they are and papers like this make that fact abundantly clear.

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.

2004-2015

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:

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 11, 2015

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 Magicicada.org’s Brood IX page for detailed information.

June 11, 2015

Look and listen for Magicicada stragglers in 2015

Another straggler sighting, this time in Cleveland which should make it a Brood V one year straggler:

Matt Berger Brood V Stragger 2
A Brood V straggler found by Matt Berger in West Virginia. See more photos of this cicada.

The emergence of Brood XXIII is well underway in the states along the Mississippi, and Brood IV should kick off in the west as soon as it stops raining every day. These aren’t the only Magicicada periodical cicadas emerging in the U.S. this year — some stragglers will emerge as well.

A straggler is a periodical cicada that emerges before or after the rest of its brood. Typically a straggler belonging to a 17 year brood will emerge 4 years early, but they might also emerge a year early, or a year late, or even 4 years late. This probability chart, details the probability of a straggler emergence.

In 2015 you might find the following stragglers:

  • Brood XIII 17 year cicadas emerging 4 years early in OH, PA, WVA.
  • Brood V 17 year cicadas emerging 1 year early in NY, OH, PA, VA, WVA.
  • Brood XIX 13 year periodical cicadas emerging 4 years late in AL, AR, GA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MO, MS, NC, OK, SC, TN, VA
  • Brood XXII 13 year cicadas emerging a year late in LA, MS, OH, KY

Tyla MacAllister found a Brood XIX Magicicada straggler (emerged 4 years late) in Alabama!

Older Posts »