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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.

July 23, 2016

Reading a 97 year old cicada news article

Filed under: Magicicada,Periodical — Dan @ 5:02 am

Locust

I was looking through old newspapers for articles about periodical cicadas. I found an article in the Taiban Valley News from April of 1919, titled “17-Year Locust” Due This Year1. The Taiban Valley news was published out of New Mexico, which does not experience periodical cicadas aka “17-year locusts”, so I guess the story was supplied to its readers as a curiosity — just something oddball/interesting to read. The text of the article was supplied by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (possibly C.L. Marlatt himself), and the main image of the article is an illustration that appeared previously in U.S. Department of Agriculture documents and is attributable to a Miss L. Sullivan2.

“Locusts”

97 years ago people called periodical cicadas “locusts”, just as they do today. I quote, “It has been so long miscalled by the name of locust, however, that there is no hope of divesting it of that incorrect appellation”. “No hope”! Even today, about half the people I meet call them “locusts”.

Human lifespans were a lot shorter 97 years ago

The next fact — and this startled me — is how short the average human lifespan was 97 years ago. I quote: “The fact that it appears in countless numbers one year, then is not seen again for half the average lifetime of human beings and then suddenly appears again in countless numbers”.

Half the average lifespan of human beings? Back in 1919 the average life expectancy was just 55. At most a person could expect to witness 3 emergences back then, and since babies and toddlers really don’t remember things, 2 times makes sense. Today (2016) life expectancy is around 79 years in the U.S., which means the average person will only get to see 4. I’ve seen 9, but I travel around.

Vermont still had periodical cicadas:

Back in 1919, Vermont still had periodical cicadas: “with some Isolated colonies as far northeast as upper Vermont”. Since then, they must have gone extinct.

Brood 18?

The article talks about Brood 18 emerging in the same year as Brood 10 (note, the article does not use Roman numerals). I believe the Brood 18 the article they refer to is what we now call Brood 19 (XIX) today. The article describes Brood 18 as having a 13-year life cycle, and occurring in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. The only brood that matches that is Brood XIX (see the map).

If it is indeed Brood XIX, the article is likely incorrect about the coincidence of Brood XIX and X emerging in 1919. While Brood X definitely emerged in 1919, Brood XIX would emerge in the following year 2020. Interestingly enough, the now extinct Brood XI emerged in 2020 (in Connecticut).

The rest of the article is less remarkable, but still a fun read for “the most interesting insect in the world”.

Update (8/26/2016):

David Marshall of the University of Connecticut pointed out a map of the Brood XVIII that was indeed set for emergence in 1919, which is likely what the writes of the article were citing. David points out though that this Brood XVIII was likely comprised of one-year-early emergences (stragglers) of Brood XIX, rather than an actual unique brood.

Brood XVIII

The periodical cicada, Marlatt, C. L., Washington, D.C. :U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Bureau of Entomology,1907.

1 Taiban Valley news., Taiban, Roosevelt County, N.M. April 04, 1919.
2 C. L. MARLATT. Account Of Cicada Septendecim, Its Natural Enemies And The Means Of Preventing Its Injury, Together With A Summary Of The Distribution Of The Different Broods. U. S. Department Of Agriculture. Division Of Entomology. Bulletin No. 14. 1898.

June 26, 2016

Got Flagging? Report flagging and egg nests.

Filed under: Citizen Science,Magicicada,Periodical — Dan @ 1:01 am

Got flagging? Flagging happens when tree branches wilt or die due to cicada egg laying, resulting in bunches of brown leaves. Don’t worry, this will not cause trees to die, unless they are small and weak trees. Flagging can actually do a tree a favor, by removing its weakest branches.

Visit the Magicicada.org report page to report flagging (scroll towards the bottom of the form / only on Desktop for now).

Some video of cicada flagging:

A photo of flagging:

Periodical Cicada Flagging 3

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.

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