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June 4, 2013

Stop the killing of cicadas! Help us fight back.

Filed under: Brood II,How To,Magicicada,News,Periodical — by @ 5:18 am

Stop the killing of cicadas! Help us fight back!

red white and blue eyes

John Cooley of Magicicada.org let me know that The Home Depot has large Ortho stands that advocate the destruction of periodical cicadas. Here is his tweet on the topic.

I went to Lowes to check there as well and they had Sevin brand pesticides with hang tags that specifically mention cicadas. When I saw that in person it took all my will power not to flip out and make a scene.

How can we stop these companies from advocating the destruction of cicadas? We can call, Tweet, and leave posts on their Facebook pages.

Call your local store and demand they remove signage that advocates the destruction of cicadas. Go to their websites, find their contact us pages, and call and email them.

If you see such displays in other stores, let them know how you feel as well. I will personally boycott these stores, and sell any stock I have related to them.

Reasons why destroying cicadas is ridiculous:

Magicicada.org has a periodical cicada FAQ that features compelling reasons not to destroy these animals.

Here are my reasons:

  1. How often does an event occur that is as strange, sublime and fascinating as a periodical cicada emergence? Very rarely. Maybe when a comet arrives. Four or five times in a lifetime, tops.
  2. You don’t want to rob future generations of the experience of a periodical cicada emergence, do you? You want your grandchildren and great-grandchildren to be able to experience these amazing creatures.
  3. Urbanization and other stresses are already shrinking Magicicada broods. Why accelerate their demise? Do you want the periodical cicadas to have the same fate as the dodo or passenger pigeon?
  4. It’s unpatriotic to kill periodical cicadas. Why? They’re only located in the U.S.A. They should be the official insect of the United States of America.
  5. Pesticides can cause collateral damage to other insect species like honey bees. Like to eat fruit? How about honey? Well, good luck if you help contribute to the acceleration of the death of honey bees. Read more about this topic. I think it would be ironic if a farmer sprayed to kill cicadas, but killed the pollinating insects as well.
  6. Can cicadas damage or kill small and fruiting trees? I’ve never seen it happen, but it is possible. Did you know that you can net these trees instead of drenching your neighborhood with pesticides? You can. The Magicicada FAQ has a picture of the netting.
  7. Pets and people love to eat cicadas. Do you want to poison your pets and kids when they eat a cicada treated with pesticide? I hope not.
  8. Probably the worst part about a periodical cicada emergence is cleaning up their rotting corpses. If The Home Depot and Lowes were smart, they would be selling Shop Vacs instead of chemicals.
  9. Using pesticides won’t help reduce the amount of time you have to spend cleaning them up. The corpses will pile up either way.
  10. Cicadas don’t eat fruit and vegetables. Unlike other insects, cicadas lack the mouth parts to chew vegetable matter. Unlike a caterpillar or grasshopper, they won’t eat your tomatoes or other garden vegetables.

I can go on and on…

Please help. Use social media to voice your disgust. Call your local store to ask them to take down anti-cicada signage.

April 4, 2013

What Type of Cicada Prepper Are You?

Filed under: Brood II,How To,Magicicada,Periodical — by @ 5:23 pm

Are you preparing for the 2013 invasion of the Brood II Magicicada? If so, what type of cicada prepper are you?

Every type of prepper

If you’re visiting Cicada Mania, you’re probably trying to figure out when and where the Brood II cicadas will emerge. We have a page for that.

Once the cicadas arrive you’re also going to report them to Magicicada.org, right? You’re also going to upload your photos and video to Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, Pinterest and Instagram, right? You’re going to tag your photos & video with appropriate tags like #BroodII, #Magicicada, and #17YearCicada as well.

Kid Scientist:

cicada kid

Kids will probably enjoy a cicada emergence more than any one group of people. Kids will want to learn, capture, collect, observe, photograph, draw and write about cicadas.

If you want to learn about cicadas, there are many cicada websites, including Cicada Mania. There are also many books to read; ask your local library to obtain a few of them.

Capturing periodical cicadas is easy. Unlike other insects, these cicadas are slow and easy to grab when they’re on the ground on low on a tree. You can use a butterfly net, if you want to catch one in flight. At night, when they first emerge, they are especially easy to catch. You can use a flashlight to spot them coming out of the ground, and shedding their skins on tree branches.

A portable butterfly pavilion is a great place to temporarily keep and observe cicadas. It’s a lot better than a coffee can with holes punched in the lid. Another good option is to use an old aquarium and turn it into a terrarium filled with natural objects, like tree branches. You can also wrap a tree branch with netting and place the cicadas inside that, and observe then in their natural habitat.

It’s good to have a magnifying glass or a camera with a zoom feature so you can observe the cicadas up close. If you have a camera, make sure you take plenty of photos and video so you have something to remember the cicadas.

Preparation list:

  1. Books and website links for research
  2. A flashlight to look for them at night
  3. A camera to take photos or video (a smart phone works just fine). Don’t forget to record their songs.
  4. A container or habitat to keep them in. Options include:
    1. A butterfly pavilion
    2. A terrarium
    3. A tree branch wrapped in fine netting
    4. The classic jar or tin can, for temporary storage
  5. A magnifying lens to see them up close
  6. Art supplies to draw or paint pictures of them

Amateur Cicada Researcher

Do you consider yourself a citizen scientist or amateur cicada researcher?

Prior to the emergence cicada researchers will monitor the temperature of the soil, using a ground thermometer, or a cicada tracker. They will also monitor the ground for dime-sized holes and cicada chimneys.

Each night the cicada researcher will check the ground at the foot of trees, waiting for the first emerging nymphs.

Once the nymphs start to emerge, the cicada researcher will record the location, take photos, video, and take notes on the amount of cicadas observed. The researcher will also likely keep some samples of the cicada population.

After about a week, the male cicadas will be ready to sing. At this point the researcher will record the cicada’s song with an audio recording device.

If you’re interested in collecting specimens, Bioquip has plenty of pinning and mounting, insect storage and netting supplies.

Massachusettes Cicadas has a good article on pinning cicadas.

Preparation list:

  • Measure the soil temperature: a Thermometer or Cicada Tracker
  • GPS Device: a device to tell your location, for use in mapping the emergence
  • Carry and Observe: butterfly pavilion; netting to wrap around a tree branch; a terrarium
  • Cameras: SLR cameras, video cameras, web cams, or even the camera in your smart phone
  • Computer: use your PC, tablet or smart phone to access the internet and record and report your findings
  • Pen and paper: just in case technology fails you
  • Supplies for pinning and storing specimens: get the supplies you need to preserve the specimens you keep
  • Chat with an expert: join the Yahoo Entomology-Cicadidae Group and chat with fellow cicada researchers and experts
  • Transporation: if you plan on helping to map the cicada emergence, you’ll need a bike, car or truck to travel around in. Bonus points, if the vehicle has a GPS device.

Nature Photographer:

My best tip for photographers and videographers is practice shooting at night. Most Magicicadas will emerge at night, and you don’t want to miss their emergence and amazing transformation from nymph to adult!

My trick is to point a flashlight beam at the cicada — that way the camera will see the cicada and you won’t spend a lot of time getting the camera to focus and flash in the dark.

Don’t forget your best macro lens as well, to get great up close shots.

Preparation list:

  1. Your camera and equipment
  2. A tripod
  3. A macro lens
  4. A flashlight
  5. Practice shooting at night

Insect Gourmet:

Yes, a lot of people eat cicadas! People add them to stews, chili or just fry them up with spices! People even add them sweets like cookies and ice cream! I like to call them “shrimp of the dirt”.

Cicadas, like all insects, are arthropods — just like lobsters, shrimp and crabs — so you might be able to prepare them using similar spices. Buttered, spicy cicada — nummers!

My tips: 1) You do not want to eat them if your neighbor has sprayed them with insecticide first; 2) I hear they’re tastiest when they’re still recently emerged and white (teneral); 3) Consult your doctor before eating any creature that has lived underground for 17 years.

I, personally, haven’t tried to eat a cicada. I’m not squeamish; I just like them too much to eat one, and I suffer from arthropod allergies (I get gout when I eat crustaceans), so I avoid trying cicadas.

More info on eating cicadas, including recipes.

Preparation list:

  1. Courage
  2. A strong stomach
  3. Recipes
  4. All the cooking implements and ingredients you need to cook ‘em up
  5. A friend to call 911 in case you choke, have an allergic reaction or are poisoned by pesticide

Nervous Gardener:

Cicada Ron Swanson

I can sympathize with gardeners who are afraid that cicadas will damage or kill their plants. The good news is cicadas are not like true locusts. True locusts (which are actually a form of grasshopper) will strip plants of all leaves, flowers and fruit. Cicadas only damage trees when they lay their eggs in branches. Typically a few of the weaker branches of a tree will die or weaken. The leaves turn brown, which is called flagging.

Cicadas are interested in trees. They can’t kill a large elm, maple or oak. Where they can cause damage is to weaker ornamental flowering and fruit trees.

I’ve never personally experienced catastrophic cicada tree damage, but I’ve also never owned a flowering, miniature pear tree.

Preparation list:

  1. Consult with your local tree care expert. No sense in going out and buying a bunch of stuff, if you don’t need to.
  2. Netting. Placing netting around the branches of small trees will help keep cicadas off them.
  3. Insect Barrier Tape. Insect barrier tape keeps cicadas from crawling up the trunks.
  4. Foil. Again, to keep the cicadas from crawling up the trunks.
  5. Hose them down/off. Cicadas like dry and warm, not cold and wet.
  6. Manually pick them off like grapes.

I don’t recommend pesticides for three reasons: 1) collateral damage to other species of insects like honey bees, 2) I’m tired of hearing about pets that die from eating cicadas tainted with pesticides, and 3) I think cicadas are awesome, and I want to see them survive.

Clean Up Crew:

Be prepared to have to clean up dead cicadas in your yard. Depending on the amount of cicadas in your neighborhood, you might need to clean them up with rakes and shovels, buckets and wheelbarrows. They definitely stink when they start to rot, so you might want to bury them in a large hole, and cover the corpses with lime. I’ve heard of people composting their bodies as well.

Preparation list:

  1. Rake
  2. Shovel
  3. A bucket or wheelbarrow
  4. Lime
  5. A net, in case they end up in your pool

November 11, 2012

Researching Cicadas in the Neotropic ecozone

If you’re researching Cicadas in the Neotropic ecozone, which is Central and South America, here are some resources that will help you:

1) Follow Andreas Kay’s Flickr feed. He posts many excellent cicada photos from Ecuador. Many cicadas found in Equador are not endemic, so the cicadas you see in Andreas’ Flickr feed should be found in adjacent countries.

2) Visit Cigarras do Brasil – Brazilian Cicadas for photos and information about the cicadas of Brazil.

3) Read: Jacobi (1907) “Homoptera Andina”. (Not sure where to find it – maybe ebay).

4) Read: Insecta. Rhynchota. Hemiptera-Homoptera. Volume I (1881-1905) by W. L. Distant and W. W. Fowler. It is available online. Here is a sample from that book:

Insecta. Rhynchota. Hemiptera-Homoptera. Volume I (1881-1905) by W. L. Distant and W. W. Fowler

5) Search for papers written by Allen F. Sanborn. Here is how to search for cicada research papers online.

6) Use ITIS to traverse cicada species names and get listings of papers about the cicada — then search for the cicada names and papers.

Thanks again to David Emery!

November 7, 2012

How to learn more about cicadas, by searching for cicada researchers

Filed under: How To,Zammara — by @ 10:58 pm

Just about anything and everything ends up on the web these days, including research papers written by cicada researchers. Many of these papers are easily downloaded from the web, and once downloaded you can read them and expand your knowledge about cicadas.

This weekend I was looking for information about cicadas from Central and South America (the Neotropic ecozone). Allen F. Sanborn, Ph.D is well known for his research of cicadas of that region, so I searched for some of his research papers. Google will retrieve all PDF (Adobe Acrobat) files that contain the word cicada and the name Allen F. Sanborn, when you search for “Allen F. Sanborn cicada ext:pdf” (remove the quotes when you search).

Some interesting papers I found include:

Checklist of the cicadas (Insecta: Hemiptera: Cicadidae) of Paraguay including new records for six species (Sandborn, Allen F., 2011). This paper includes a long list of cicada species, which I used to look for images of cicadas on Flickr.com.

The new records increase the known cicada diversity 37.5% bringing the total number of cicada species reported in Paraguay to 22 species in 12 genera representing five tribes and three subfamilies of the family Cicadidae. There are currently no known endemic species.

Two New Zammara Species from South America (Hemiptera: Cicadomorpha: Cicadidae) (Sandborn, Allen F., Florida Entomologist 87(3),2004). This paper includes many photographs, which make cicada identification easy.

ABSTRACT
Two new members of the widespread Neotropical genus Zammara Amyot & Serville, Zammara
olivacea n.sp. from Columbia and Zammara medialinea n.sp. from Venezuela are described.

Key Words: new species, taxonomy, cicada, Zammara, Columbia, Venezuela.

New Records for the Cicada Fauna from Four Central American Countries (HEMIPTERA: CICADOIDEA: CICADIDAE (Sandborn, Allen F.; Florida Entomologist 89(1), 2006). This article features a map with cicada species names.

ABSTRACT
Analysis of museum specimens has added to the cicada fauna of Belize, El Salvador, Guate- mala, and Honduras. Information on the cicada fauna reported in the literature as well as the first records of cicada species to the fauna are reported here to provide a more accurate un- derstanding of cicada diversity in each country and the region. The new records represent an increase of 75, 14, 110, and 320%, respectively, to the cicada faunal diversity of each country.
Key Words: cicadas, biodiversity, Central America

If you use my Google formula, you can find these papers too.

The The Current Status of Cicada Taxonomy on a Region-by-Region Basis page on Cicada Central is a good resource for learning about other cicada researchers.

May 5, 2012

Six Cicada Experiments and Projects

Here are six cicada projects and experiments you can try during the coming Brood XIX 13-year periodical cicada emergence in America.

Find a White or Blue Eyed Magicicada!

(Magicicada only)

White or Blue eyed Magicicada are very rare! Typically they have red or orange eyes. There was even an urban legend that scientists were offering a reward for white-eyed Magicicada (well, that was a legend, until Roy Troutman actually offered a reward in 2008). Aside from Blue or White-eyed Magicicada, you can find other colors like yellow eyes, and multicolored eyes.

Try this: Have a contest amongst your friends and family for who can find the most white, yellow and multicolor-eyed cicadas.


Wing Clicks

(Magicicada only)

How do you get a male cicada to sing? Imitate a female cicada. Female cicadas don’t sing, but they do click their wings together to get a male cicada’s attention.

Try this: snap your fingers near cicadas almost immediately (half-second) after a Male stops singing. Male cicadas will hear the snap and think it’s a female clicking her wings, and they may sing in response.

You can also try imitating male cicada calls to get the females to click their wings. Magicicada tredecim and Magicicada neotredecim are probably the easiest to imitate with their “Waaah Ooh”/”WeeOoh” calls. You can find sound files on the Magicicada.org site so you can practice.

Cicada Free-Styling

(Magicicada only)

One of the best ways to locate cicadas is to simply listen for them. When you’re driving or biking around town, take note of where you hear cicadas. If you hear cicadas in a public place, don’t we afraid to stop and observe them.

Try this: Travel around listening for cicadas, document their location and numbers, and report them to magicicada.org.

Tips:

  • Learn the songs of the periodical cicadas, and learn what they look like, including the different phases of development (nymph, teneral adult, adult) and species. Magicicada.org has sound files and images of what they looks like.
  • Study the maps and other documentation of previous sightings
  • Network with friends to find out where they are
  • Drive with your windows open (so you can hear them)
  • Car pool to save gas (or use you bicycle)
  • Respect private property
  • Document the specific location. Some smart phones and GPS devices will give you the latitude and longitude coordinates, but street addresses and mile markers work fine as well.
  • Document: how many cicadas you saw, and what phase they were in (nymph, white teneral cicadas, live adults, deceased adults).
  • Document the cicadas: take photos, take video, share your experience on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, etc.
  • Report the your discovery to magicicada.org

Document the Cicada’s Life Cycle

(Works for most cicadas)

You can observe many phases and activities of a cicada’s life while they are above ground.

Try this: Photograph or film as many stages of a cicada’s life as possible, then create a slideshow or movie depicting the life of a cicada. Post your finished slideshow or movie on the web (YouTube?) so other people can enjoy it.

Phases of a cicadas life you can try to capture:


Test Gene Kritsky’s Cicada Emergence Formula

(Magicicada only)

Cicada researcher Gene Kritsky developed a cicada emergence formula to try to predict when the cicadas will emerge based on the mean temperature in April.

Try this: on May 1st, go to our cicada emergence formula page, follow the instructions and find out when the cicadas might emerge in your area. Document when the cicadas emerge in your area, and compare the results. Note whether the cicadas emerge in sunny or shady areas.

How to Keep Cicadas in Captivity

(Works for most cicadas)

People ask: “what’s the best way to keep a cicada in captivity?” The answer depends on how long you plan on keeping the cicada, and how happy you want the cicada to be.

Wooden and plastic bug houses (“Bug Bungalows”, “Critter Cabins”, “Bug Jugs”, etc.) will suffice as temporary homes for cicadas. The classic jar with holes punched in the lid works too. Add a fresh branch for them to crawl on and drink fluids from (or at least try). Remember not to leave it in the sun so the cicadas inside don’t bake!

Butterfly Pavilions are collapsible containers made of netting that you can use to gather cicadas, and provide them with a temporary home. People also use Fish Aquariums to keep cicadas in there homes for extended periods of time — add plenty of vegetation for the cicadas to crawl around on and some water for the cicadas to sip.

Try this: get some flexible netting and wrap it around a branch on a tree, making sure not to leave any openings, then put your cicadas inside. Cicadas in this kind of enclosure will be more likely to sing and interact, because life trees are their natural habitat.

You can also try wrapping netting around a small, potted maple tree.


Want to keep your cicadas forever? Try the Massachusetts Cicadas guide to preserving cicadas.

August 17, 2007

Collecting and Photographing Cicadas

Filed under: How To — by @ 12:47 pm

Gerry Bunker has published an online guide to Pinning, Labeling and Preserving Your Cicadas. This is excellent information if you plan to start a collection.

Over the years Roy Troutman has supplied Cicada Mania with many excellent macro photos of cicadas. Fans of macro photography will also appreciate these photos by Todd Quinn, Vic Fazio’s Tibicen dorsatus and my Tibicen tibicen (T. chloromerus, T. chloromera).

And just for the heck of it, here’s a list of insect ID websites:

Bug Guide, Insect Identification, What’s that Bug.

Normally I can get the ID of a cicada fairly quickly, thanks to folks like Gerry and Paul Krombholz. Aside from Locusts, the insect most people confuse with cicadas is the Sphinx Moth.

April 28, 2007

Protecting your (wimpy) trees from cicadas

Filed under: How To — by @ 9:50 am

As you may have heard, cicadas can damage small trees (like wimpy ornamentals) as they lay their eggs in the branches. The Chicago Sun-Times has a good article titled Arbor Day takes cover against cicada swarm, that will give folks with wimpy trees strategies for dealing with the upcoming emergence. If you’re concerned, read the article.

Tips:

  • Use netting to protect trees. If you start looking now, you can probably find some at a local Home Depot or garden supply store. Beat the rush.
  • Delay plantings until July.
  • Don’t use pesticides. It isn’t worth it. Bee populations are in bad shape so we don’t want to do any collateral damage to other species. After 11 years of running this web site, I’ve heard a few stories about family pets dying after consuming pesticide covered cicadas or grass. Don’t do it!
  • Native species of trees, like oak and maples, fare much better against cicadas because they’ve co-evolved for 100′s of centuries. Wimpy ornamentals from Asia fare a lot worse. Plant only proud, American trees.

March 15, 2007

Cicada Emergence Formula

Filed under: How To,Magicicada,Periodical — by @ 1:01 am

You could try this with northern Magicicada periodical cicadas, but I would avoid it for southern states like Louisiana (because you’ll get negative numbers, which will be confusing). Also, do not use temperature data from past years, because the weather is wildly variable and you’ll get a useless number.

Gene Kritsky was nice enough to send a paper he wrote with a formula for predicting the emergence date. E = (19.465 – t)/0.5136, where E = emergence start date in May and t = average April temperatures in ┬░Celsius. His formula worked like a charm for predicting the Brood X emergence in Cincinnati. 80% of his sites had begun the emergence on the predicted date of May 14th of that year. Also when the ground temperature reaches a consistent 18┬░ Celsius that is another good sign the emergence is about to begin.

Try it out:

Average Mean Temperature in Celsius in April: (hint: use a site like Weather Underground to find this info)

The date should be:

Updated: we updated the form to accept 3 numbers past the decimal in case you have super-precise temperature information.

To find the Average Mean Temperature in Celsius on the Weather Underground site:

  1. Go to the site
  2. Enter your zip code in the box labeled “Find the Weather for any City, State or ZIP Code, or Airport Code or Country”
  3. Find the section of the page labeled “History & Almanac”, and click the “April Calendar View” link.
  4. Then scroll to the top of that page and you’ll find the info you need.

Thanks to Roy Troutman and Gene.

December 5, 2006

Cicada Wedding Planner

Filed under: How To,Magicicada,Periodical,Video — by @ 4:09 am

Don't sweat it!

The most frequently asked question we get is "will cicadas spoil my outdoor wedding"? I guess Al Roker gets the "will it rain on my wedding day" questions? Seriously, most people consider their wedding day the most important day of their life — no wonder they want it to be perfect. I’m no Jennifer
Lopez, but I’ll try to help you plan around these potential wedding crashers.

The Date

Magicicada typically emerge sometime in early May, and have expired by the last week of June. When they emerge depends on where you live. Typically, cicadas in northern states emerge later than those in southern states, but you can pretty much count on them being around in May and June. Try the cicada emergence formula to try to estimate when they will emerge in your area.

You can use the chart on our Frequently Asked Questions page to see if Magicicadas are emerging in your state in the year of your wedding.

The Location

There are two things you need to consider: 1) your state and city, and 2) the actual location where the wedding will be held.

Your state and city:

First check the cicada maps!

  • Step 1: Find an actual map of your state and town – you can use Mapquest.
  • Step 2: Find a corresponding cicada brood map. A brood map will tell you where the cicadas will appear in a given year. We have most of the brood maps here.
  • Step 3) compare the brood map with the real map. If the areas match, cicadas may be an issue.

The actual location where the wedding will be held:

The good news is Magicicadas don’t emerge in every yard and every neighborhood. You have to do some research:

  1. Ask the property owners what the last emergence was like. If they weren’t around, knock on a few doors, or go to the library and check the town newspaper. Obviously, if the last emergence was heavy, cicadas may be an issue.
  2. Does the property have no trees, some trees, or is it like a forest? Cicadas love trees, especially deciduous trees (like oaks, maples) and fruit trees. If there are plenty of trees in the yard, or the surrounding yards, cicadas may be an issue.

Do’s

  1. Consider renting a hall. Sure, grandma’s yard is pretty,
    but nothing beats peace of mind — and it might rain anyway.
  2. If you’re set on having an outdoor wedding rent a big tent. Definitely have a tent for the ceremony and guests. Remember, it has to fit the band as well. You might also consider renting a second tent for the food area.
  3. Music. Cicadas are loud, and you will hear them, but good PA systems (like those DJs use), and bands are louder. A small stereo might not be loud enough.
  4. The food. Don’t bring it out until it’s time to eat, and keep it covered. Your caterer should have some ideas as well — like serve the food inside the house, or under a tent. Cicadas have no interest in human food, but one might fall out of a tree and into the potato salad.
  5. Educate your guests: Let them know that cicadas don’t sting like bees. Let them know they’ll be around for the length of the party.
  6. Clean up: Cicadas leave skins behind — you may have to clean up before the wedding. A shop vac works fine.
  7. Make a game of it. Kids love bugs: have some containers around for the kids to collect the cicadas in. It’s something they’ll never forget.
  8. Bring your sense of humor, and relax. Like rain, there’s not much you can do about it. If the property is full of cicadas, get set for some hilarious pictures.
  9. Bagpipes are effective at drowning out cicadas.

The Don’ts

  1. Don’t Use pesticide. You’ll only stink up the yard, and make the guests sick. Plus, cicadas are flyers — the cicadas from the neighbors yard will fly right into yours.
  2. Don’t Panic. They’re only bugs, and while they look fearsome and have hard body parts, they don’t bite and sting like bees and flies do.

What you can expect

  1. The bodies of dead cicadas littering the ground.
  2. The constant hum of cicada song.
  3. An occasional cicada landing on a guest. Guests screaming.
  4. An occasional cicada crawling on a table, chair, barbecue.

I speak from personal experience. In 1996 friends of mine had an out door wedding in the midst of a cicada emergence. The yard was filled with tall oak trees (which cicadas love) — and plenty of cicadas as well. Cicada shells littered the ground near the base of trees. You could hear the cicadas hum the whole time, but they didn’t drown out the music (a classic quartet, and a DJ later on). An occasional cicada landed on a guest, and you could see a few crawling on lawn chairs, but everyone seemed to take it in stride and the kids loved them. The cicadas only made the event even more memorable.

On the other hand, my sister thinks the cicadas “pretty much destroyed the wedding”, so maybe you should rent a hall after all.

Lastly, here’s some scenes from a cicada infested wedding I attended in 1996:

Scenes from a Cicada Wedding – Brood II 1996 from Cicada Mania on Vimeo.

Good Luck!

– Dan

August 13, 2005

How to find and photograph cicadas at night

Filed under: How To — by @ 10:55 am

Here’s some tips for finding and photographing newly emerged cicadas at night:

  1. Look for cicadas on trees where you’ve heard cicadas during the day, or where you’ve seen cicada nymph exoskeletons.
  2. Cicada nymphs emerge from the ground shortly after dusk. You can start your hunt then.
  3. Carry a flashlight and your camera. As you approach a tree, shine the flashlight on the ground close to the tree. You don’t want to step on any of them!
  4. Scan the tree trunk and all the limbs with your flashlight. Once you spot one, get ready with your camera.
  5. If you don’t spot any cicadas after dusk, try a half hour later, and then a half an hour after that, up until 11pm.
  6. Non-techie digital camera tips:
    1. Set the camera on auto or portrait (usually a picture of a profile).
    2. Set the focus on Macro (usually a picture of a tulip) or manual.
    3. Experiment with these settings.
  7. Don’t touch the cicadas: for the most natural photos, you don’t want them to be disturbed.

Good luck. These tips have paid off for me. I hope they’ll work for you!