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June 29, 2017

Okanagana Cicadas

Filed under: Okanagana,Proto-periodical — Dan @ 7:11 pm

Okanagana cicadas
Photo credit: left, O. rimosa by Natasha; right, O. bella by Matt Berger.

Okanagana is a genus of cicadas that share their name with the Okanagan Lake, Valley & County areas of British Columbia, Canada. As you might guess, Okanagana are common in Canada. It is likely that the genus was named in tribute to the Okanagan people.

There are approximately 61 species in North America. 93% of species live west of the Mississippi river.

West of the Mississippi, O. synodica synodica & O. bella are the most common species in terms of the number of states and providences they are found. O. canadensis & O. rimosa are the most common species east of the Mississippi.

Lifespans and Lifecycles:

Okanagana rimosa have a lifespan of 9 years. Okanagana synodica have a lifespan of possibly 17 to 19 years! (see Campbell et al. 10.1073/pnas.1421386112).

Okanagana rimosa also appear to be proto-periodical (source) meaning they are abundant in some years, and scarce, but not absent in others.

“Soper et al (112) showed experimentally that Okanagana rimosa had a life
cycle of 9 years, and that in the field during a 9-year period (1962 to
1970) it was extremely abundant in 4 years and scarce or absent in the
other 5. Heath (32) also studied cicadas of the genus Okanagana and
found several species that appear to be protoperiodical.”

I’m not sure, but I suppose other species of Okanagana have proto-periodical lifecycles as well. This would explain why people see Okanagana in great numbers one year, and very few in previous years.

Okanagana
O. canadensis photo taken by Lester Wayne Daniels.

Identification:

Okanagana are typically around between June and July, depending on the species and latitude.

Okanagana are often black, with white, beige or orange highlights on their wings and body. The black color of their exoskeletons helps them absorb warmth from the sun.

Look for four symmetrical markings on their mesonotum (back). The image at the beginning the the article highlights these markings.

One Okanagana that has atypical coloration is the O. viridis which is green. This outlier is one of the few species found in southern states.

Here is a list of Okanagana. The list features the songs of 10 Okanagana that might help you identify Okanagana in your area.

June 24, 2017

Dog Day Cicadas

Filed under: Neotibicen,Tibicen — Dan @ 9:22 am

Dog Day cicadas
Photo credit: N. canicularis (Dog-Day cicada) and N. davisi (Southern Dog-Day cicada) by Paul Krombholz. N. superbus by Sloan Childers.

Dog-day cicada is the common name given to Tibicen (now Neotibicen) type cicadas in North America. These cicadas are called “Dog Day” because they are typically observed during the “Dog Days of Summer“, which fall somewhere between late July to early September, or once the “Dog Star” Sirius appears in the morning sky. All Neotibicen species are present during the month of August in North America.

Here is a list of Neotibicen.

Dog-day cicadas are known for their green, brown, black & white coloration that provides them with excellent camouflage in the trees they inhabit.

Dog-day cicada is used generally to describe most Neotibicen, but a few species are explicitly named Dog-day:

  • Neotibicen canicularis aka the Dog-day cicada. Canicularis is Latin for “of the dog star”, and the dog star is Sirius. Found in AR, CT, DC, IL, IN, IA, KS, ME, MB, MD, MA, MI, MN, MO, NE, NB, NH, NJ, NY, NC, ND, NS, OH, ON, PA, PE, QC, RI, SC, SD, TN, VT, VA, WV, WI. Season: August-October.
  • Neotibicen davisi, aka the Southern Dog-day cicada. There are two sub-species. Found in AL, DE, DC, FL, GA, LA, MD, MA, MS, NJ, NY, NC, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV. Season: July-October.
  • Neotibicen superbus aka the Superb Dog-day cicada. Found in AR, KS, LA, MO, NM, OK, TX. Season: June-August.
  • Neotibicen auriferus, aka the Plains Dog-day Cicada. Found in AR, KS, MO, NE, NM, OK, TX. Season: July-September.
  • Neotibicen similaris, aka Similar Dog-Day Cicada. Found in AL, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC. Season: June-September.

Neotibicen superbus (Fitch, 1855)
Photo credit: Neotibicen superbus by Sloan Childers

These cicadas do not actually appear the moment Sirius rises, and when they do appear depends on your location and the weather. Neotibicen canicularis will appear in Arkansas before it appears in Quebec. That said, if you are curious when Sirius will rise in your area, search for “heliacal rising of sirius” — it varies about a day per degree of latitude. Neotibicen, depending on the species, can be found from May to December (December in Florida), but all Neotibicen species are present during the month of August in North America.

June 3, 2017

Look & listen for Brood X Stragglers

Filed under: Accelerations,Brood X,Magicicada,Periodical Stragglers — Dan @ 1:01 am

Surprise!

Summer is here now, so it is time for annual species of cicadas. See which types of cicadas are in your area.

If you experienced Brood X stragglers this spring, it’s not to late report the location where you saw them to Magicicada.org. In the Ohio area, send your cicada photos of Mount St. Joseph University.

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.

May 31, 2017

Neotibicen similaris apalachicola, a new cicada subspecies

Filed under: David Marshall,Kathy Hill,Neotibicen,United States — Dan @ 6:28 am

A new subspecies of the Similar Dog-Day Cicada has been described in the paper A new Neotibicen cicada subspecies (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) from the southeastern USA forms hybrid zones with a widespread relative despite a divergent male calling song by David C. Marshall and Kathy B. R. Hill (Zootaxa, Vol 4272, No 4). The cicada is named Neotibicen similaris apalachicola.

This cicada lives in Florida, Georgia & Alabama, and hybridizes with the other Similar Dog-Day Cicada sub-speces, Neotibicen similaris similaris. The document is available on biotaxa.org.

A morphologically cryptic subspecies of Neotibicen similaris (Smith and Grossbeck) is described from forests of the Apalachicola region of the southeastern United States. Although the new form exhibits a highly distinctive male calling song, it hybridizes extensively where it meets populations of the nominate subspecies in parapatry, by which it is nearly surrounded. This is the first reported example of hybridization between North American nonperiodical cicadas. Acoustic and morphological characters are added to the original description of the nominate subspecies, and illustrations of complex hybrid song phenotypes are presented. The biogeography of N. similaris is discussed in light of historical changes in forest composition on the southeastern Coastal Plain.

You will find song samples and maps on the Insect Singers website.

I think this is an image of the new cicada:

April 27, 2017

Brood VI 17-Year Cicadas Due in Spring of 2017

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

The 2017 Periodical Cicada Season is Over. Thanks for visiting.

Final Update: I traveled to Wisconsin last week and spent a few days looking for cicadas in the southern part of the state (Madison, Baraboo, Janesville, Cedar Bluff, Dodgeville) but unfortunately I did not see or hear any. :(. So far this year though, Brood VI was spotted in GA, NC, SC, OK, OH and perhaps NY….

BROOD VI

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:

Wanted Poster

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

(more…)

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