Cicada Mania

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July 5, 2015

When is a locust not a locust? When the locust is a cicada.

Filed under: FAQs,Identify,Magicicada — Dan @ 6:26 am

Are Cicadas Locusts? The short answer is NO. However, in the U.S.A. we’ve been calling cicadas “locusts” for hundreds of years.

People have seen referring to cicadas, particularly Periodical cicadas, as both flies and “locusts” since the 1600’s, when colonists first documented them.

Gene Kritsky's The Plague and the Puzzle

Gene Kritsky’s book Periodical Cicadas: The Plague and the Puzzle provides a chronology and historical texts of people referring to cicadas as “locusts”. Consider this quote from Pehr Kalm from 1756:

By the Engishmen here they are called Locusts and by the Swedes living here they have gotten the name Grasshoppers. In Latin they could be called Cicada.

It makes some sense that Englishmen would call cicadas Locusts, and Swedes would call them Grasshoppers, because there was only one species of cicada in both England and Sweden. This cicada, Cicadetta montana montana, call is so high-pitched you need electronic assistance to hear it, so most people were not aware of its existence. So, when Englishmen and women encountered cicadas they likely thought “there are a lot of them, they’re big, I’m afraid they’re going to eat my carrots — these must be LOCUSTS”!

Cicadas are indeed not Locusts, Grasshoppers or Flies.


Take a look that the illustration of a true locust below. You’ll notice the true locusts have HUGE rear legs for hopping, long antennae, and relatively long bodies. True locusts chew the plants they consume, while Magicicadas suck fluids from trees.

Locust:

Locust

17-year cicada:

17-year cicada

For more instances of cicadas being confused with other types of insects, read the article These are not cicada insects!

June 28, 2015

How many kinds of cicadas are there?

Filed under: FAQs,Identify — Dan @ 12:46 pm

How many kinds of cicadas are there? That depends on what you mean by kinds.

There are over 190 species in the U.S.A. and over a dozen in Canada. Australia has hundreds of cicadas and you can find a list of them here.

World wide, there are over 3,390 species, with new species described every year (I counted them all in this book)!

Learn about New Cicada species. A good source of papers about new cicadas is Zootaxa.

June 26, 2015

How to tell if a Cicada is a Male or Female?

Filed under: FAQs,Identify — Dan @ 4:43 am

Here is how to tell the difference between a male cicada and a female cicada (for most species):

1) Only males sing. If the cicada is singing, it is a male.

2) Look at their abdomen. If it comes to a point and has an ovipositor, it is a female.

This is an image comparing the abdomens of male and female Magicicada cicadas.

A detail of the genitals of two species of Magicicada

Also, if the cicada is laying eggs in the branch of a tree, that’s proof that it’s a female. Here is a video of that:

March 21, 2015

Better IDs for E.A. Seguy Cicada Illustrations

The NCSU Libraries Rare and Unique Digital Collections website recently reminded the us of artist Eugene Alain (E.A.) Seguy’s insect illustrations. Seguy created these illustrations in the 1920’s, and as you might imagine, some of the cicada names cited in the notes for these illustrations have changed. Names typically change when cicadas are reclassified due to discoveries about their biology, or when we realize that someone else had actually named them earlier than the namer currently given credit.

Here are the two illustrations, the accompanying identification, and corrected identifications.

Illustration:

EA Seguy Cicada Art

Accompanying identification:

1. Tacua speciosa. Indes; 2. Polyneura ducalis. Indes Or.; 3. Cicada saccata. Australie; 4. Cicada fascialis. Siam; 5. Tozena melanoptera. Indes Or.

Corrected or expanded identification:

  1. Tacua speciosa. This is correct, although there are two subspecies of T. speciosa, I’m going to guess it is Tacua speciosa speciosa (Illiger, 1800) based on the location.
  2. Polyneura ducalis. This is correct. Polyneura ducalis Westwood, 1840.
  3. Cicada saccata. This is now: Thopha saccata (Fabricius, 1803).
  4. Cicada fascialis. This is now: Cryptotympana facialis facialis (Walker, 1858). Update: David Emery says this might be a Cryptotympana acuta (Signoret, 1849).
  5. Tozena melanoptera. Close enough. Tosena melanoptera melanoptera (White, 1846). There are a few unnamed subspecies.

Illustration:

EA Seguy Cicada Art

Accompanying identification:

1. Goeana festiva. Indes; 2. Zammara tympanum. Amérique du Sud; 3. Goeana ochracea. Indes; 4. Phenax variegata. Brésil; 5. Hemisciera maculipennis. Amazone

Corrected or expanded identification:

  1. Goeana festiva is actually Callogaeana festiva festiva (Fabricius, 1803).
  2. Zammara tympanum. This is correct. Zammara tympanum (Fabricius, 1803).
  3. Goeana ochracea is way off. It is a Tailanga binghami Distant, 1890.
  4. Phenax variegata is not a cicada, is it a fulgoroid planthopper, but the id is correct.
  5. Hemisciera maculipennis is correct. Hemisciera maculipennis (de Laporte, 1832) aka the “Stop and Go” cicada, because its colors resemble the colors of a stop light.

October 10, 2013

Winter cicada projects

Filed under: Cicada Mania,Identify — Dan @ 6:18 pm

Between now and the spring, I have to spend some time labeling the unlabeled species of cicadas on my site.

Various Tibicen Species

August 10, 2013

New USA Cicada Search

Filed under: Identify — Dan @ 9:29 am

I am revealing my own tool for identifying the cicadas of the United States. It is called the U.S.A. & Canada Cicada SearchBETA. It is far from perfect, but it is useful to me.

This tool works for the United States and Canada as well!

USA and Canada cicadas

I’ll probably launch an international version in the late-fall, depending on how much free time I have. It would be easy to do, but it takes a lot of time, and since sitting in front of a computer for 16 hours a day is about as healthy as smoking 4 packs of cigarettes a day…

July 16, 2013

Help identify these cicadas from India

Filed under: Identify,India,Macrosemia — Dan @ 5:46 am

Raghu Ananth sent us these photos of cicadas from India. If you can identify them, let use know.

UPDATE: David Emery provided use with these ID’s, in Order from Top to Bottom:

Macrosemia umbrata. Platypleura capitata, Platypleura sp and Pomponia linearis.

Click the images for a larger version:

Cicada Found in Arunachal Pradesh, India: Macrosemia umbrata

Cicada Found in Arunachal Pradesh, India by Raghu Ananth

Cicada Found Near Mysore, India: Platypleura capitata

Cicada Found Near Mysore, India by Raghu Ananth

Cicada Found in Kukke Subramanya: Platypleura sp

Cicada Found in Kukke Subramanya, Karnataka, India by Raghu Ananth

Cicada Found in Bhagamandala, Coorg, India: Pomponia linearis

Cicada Found in Bhagamandala, Coorg, India by Raghu Ananth

April 8, 2013

Dear Press/Media/Bloggers: please use the correct cicada images and video

Filed under: Brood II,Identify,Magicicada,Periodical,Video — Dan @ 7:26 pm

If you’re writing an article about the coming emergence of the 17-year periodical cicadas, please use the correct genus & species of cicadas.

The genus of all 17 year cicadas is Magicicada, and they are never green. The three species of 17-year cicadas are M. septendecim, M. cassini, and M. septendecula. They’re all black with orange wings and legs and red eyes (some exceptions, but they’re never green).

Photos:

Magicicada septendecim

Magicicada septendecim Cicada

More photos: A gallery of Magicicada septendecim

17-year cicada video:

We need a CICADA montage! from Cicada Mania on Vimeo.

More video:

http://vimeo.com/17507527
http://vimeo.com/17507609
http://vimeo.com/17507846
http://vimeo.com/17507745
http://vimeo.com/8755152

For the sake of cicada correctness, feel free to use them in your article.

Wrong Cicadas:

If the cicada you use in your article is green, it isn’t a 17-year cicada:

The cicada at the top of the Wikipedia page for cicadas is not a 17-year cicada, it’s an annual cicada called Tibicen linnei:

Tibicen linnei

The cicada shedding its skin on a roll of paper towel… that’s not a 17-year cicada either:

Wikipedia

January 20, 2013

Orange-speckled green cicada (Lembeja sp nov)

Filed under: Identify,Indonesia,News — Dan @ 11:45 am

A pretty green speckled cicada from North Sulawesi, Indonesia.

If you can identify the species, let us know.

January 5, 2013

These are Not Cicada Insects!

Filed under: Cicada Anatomy,FAQs,Identify — Dan @ 4:07 am

I made this page for two reasons: 1) to point out insects and other animals that people commonly confuse with cicadas, and 2) list people, places and things named "cicada" that clearly are not cicadas.

By the way, if you’re looking for places to Identify insects that are not cicadas, try Bug Guide and What’s that Bug.

Order Orthoptera (Grasshoppers, Crickets, Katydids)

Are cicadas locusts? No, but people call them locusts, and have since the 1600’s.

Grasshoppers, Crickets and Katydids are often confused with cicadas because they are relatively large, singing insects. There are many differences between cicadas and Orthopterans, but the easiest way to tell them apart is Orthopterans have huge hind legs.

The Songs of Insects has song samples of grasshoppers, katydids, crickets and cicadas — listen and compare.

Learn more about insects belonging to the Order Orthoptera.

Grasshoppers / Locusts

True locusts are grasshoppers and definitely not cicadas.

Locust:

Locust

17-year cicada:

17-year cicada

People call periodical Magicicada cicadas "locusts" because they emerge in massive numbers like true locusts. Unlike a true locusts — which will chew, eat and destroy virtually all vegetation they come across — most cicadas only cause damage to weaker tree branches when they lay their eggs. When true locusts come to town, your family might starve and die (because the locusts ate all your food). When cicadas come to town, your maple tree gets a few branches of brown leaves. Big difference.

Learn more about Grasshoppers.

Katydids

Katydids get confused with cicadas for both the way they look and for the sounds they make. Some key differences: katydids usually have wings that look like green leaves, long antennae, and large hind legs for jumping. Most of the time you year an insect at night, it’s either a cricket or katydid.

Amblycorypha oblongifolia,-side_2012-07-26-17.10.53-ZS-PMax
Photo by USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Laboratory.

Learn more about Katydids.

Crickets

Crickets don’t look like cicadas, but they do make sounds. Most of the time you year an insect at night, it’s either a cricket or katydid.

Velarifictorus micado,-side_2012-07-09-18.36.02-ZS-PMax
Photo by USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Laboratory.

Learn more about crickets.

Sphinx Moths

Sphinx Moths are confused for cicadas because, at a glance, they have a similar shape. Learn more about Sphinx moths.

Hawk or Sphinx Moth
Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Midwest Region

Other members of the Suborder Auchenorrhyncha

Planthoppers (Infraorder Fulgoromorpha), Froghoppers (Infraorder Cicadomorpha > Superfamily Cercopoidea), and Cicadelloidea (Infraorder Cicadomorpha > Superfamily Membracoidea ) are often mistaken for cicadas (Infraorder Cicadomorpha > Superfamily Cicadoidea) because they share the same Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order and Suborder — and they look a lot a like. The big difference is cicadas sing, while other members of Auchenorrhyncha do not sing.

Leafhopper, U, top, Patuxant, MD_2012-10-09-11.40.20 ZS PMax
Plant-Hopper,-side_2012-07-06-19.25.23-ZS-PMax
Photos by USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Laboratory.

Learn more about the other members of the Suborder Auchenorrhyncha.

June Bugs

NO, cicadas are not June Bugs. Many people confuse June Bug larvae for cicada larvae.

Beetle Larve Grubs

“I dug up a white grub in my back yard. Is it a cicada?”

Maybe. Just about every insect goes through a larval phase, and they pretty much all look alike to the novice. Unlike beetle larvae, cicada larvae or nymphs are not long-bodied like grubs. Long larvae = beetle larvae.

An example of a young cicada nymph unearthed from the ground. Note how its body is white, but it doesn’t have the Cheetos/worm-like body of a beetle grub:
elias-magicicada-2nd-nymph-07

Frogs

Frog calls are often mistaken for cicada song, particularly at night.

Birds

Bird calls can be mistaken for cicada song. Some birds that can mimic sounds, such as Lyrebirds, Mockingbirds, and Psittaciformes (Parrots) could conceivably mimic cicada sounds.

The HORSE

No one would confuse a horse with a cicada (visually and audibly speaking), but there was a famous horse named cicada.

People, Places and Things Named Cicada

These are people (in the form of Bands), places and things named cicada. They often show up in Flickr, Twitter, Ebay or Amazon, when I’m searching for cicada insects. It is awesome that people name stuff after cicadas (but it can be annoying when you’re searching for cicada insects, and other stuff shows up).

Bands

There are many bands with "cicada" in their name. These show up a lot in ebay and twitter. Here is a partial list:

There are many albums named Cicada as well, such as Cicada by Cat Scientist. That one comes up a lot in ebay.

Places

These places show up in twitter, and when I search for cicada photos on Flickr.

Things

Here’s a list of other things that often show up in ebay, twitter and amazon.

  • BattleTech BattleMech Cicada is a toy.
  • Cicada is a company that makes dental equipment.
  • Cicada Magazine is a magazine for children.
  • The Cicada is a multi tool.
  • PageFlip Cicada is a wireless Bluetooth pedal designed to meet the needs of musicians and people with disabilities who struggle with the challenge and inconvenience of page turning.


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