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August 13, 2017

How long do cicadas live?

Filed under: FAQs,Life Cycle — Dan @ 12:09 pm

The most famous cicadas — North American periodical cicadas — typically live 17 or 13 years. These cicadas only represent about 0.2% of all cicadas, most of which live shorter lives.

Magicicada_septendecim_Jim_Thorpe
Magicicada septendecim cicadas live 17 years.

Cicada Life Spans:

Cicada life spans (life cycle length) vary from one year, to as many as 21, depending on the species. Cicadas like Myopsalta crucifera and Parnkalla muelleri of Australia have one year life cycles6. Magicicada septendecim, M. cassini and M. septendecula, of the United States, can live as long as 21 years (read What are Stragglers?).

Some life spans for well known cicadas:

    North America:

  • Magicicada septendecim, M. cassini and M. septendecula: 13 to 2210, but typically 17.
  • Magicicada tredecim, M. neotredecim, M. tredecassini, and M. tredecula: 9 to 17, but typically 13.
  • Diceroprocta apache: 2-5, but typically 3-4 years1.
  • Tibicen genera: 2-7 years2.
  • Okanagana rimosa: 9 years3.
  • Okanagana synodica: possibly 17 to 19 years.5
    Australia:

  • Cyclochila australasiae: 6-7. 6
    India:

  • Chremistica ribhoi: 4. 7
    Japan:

  • Hyalessa maculaticollis: 2-5, but typically 3. 8
    New Zealand:

  • Amphipsalta zealandica: 3-4, but typically 4. 9

Table 3 of the paper Genome expansion via lineage splitting and genome reduction in the cicada endosymbiont Hodgkinia (Campbell et al, 2015) contains a large table of cicada life cycle lengths.

Annual, Periodical, or Protoperiodical

Most cicadas appear on an Annual basis, meaning that every year adults will appear.

It is common for many species to be Protoperiodical as well, meaning that some years will see an abundance of adults, while other years there will be a limited number of that species. Okanagana rimosa, in particular, are Protoperiodical 9.

Some species, like the Magicicada species and Chremistica ribhoi appear on a Periodical basis, meaning that after a specific number of years almost all adults of the species will emerge.

Life Expectancy

Although many cicadas have long life cycles, not many of them make it to adulthood. Nymphal mortality of Magicicada can reach 98% in the first 2 years 4. Imagine if all those cicadas made it to adulthood. 50 times more cicadas! Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.

Magicicada is just one genus of cicadas (representing about 0.2% of all species), but I have to think that most cicadas, regardless of species, will never make it to adulthood.

How long do cicadas live as adults?

Short answer: about a month.

How long a cicada lives as an adult depends on the species, but the answer could be from a matter of seconds, if the cicada dies due to predation or an accident, to more than a month. Cicadas are primarily subterranean plant (mostly tree) parasites, and only enter their above-ground, adult form to mate/reproduce.

A particular species of cicada — like Neotibicen tibicen tibicen — might appear to last for two or three months, because their song can be heard for that length of time, but that’s likely because they emerge over the course of a month, not all on the same day, extending length of time their species is present above ground.

No matter what the species, adult cicadas perish within a season or two, and do not live multiple years in their adult form, like other types of insects. They won’t try to move inside your house once winter approaches to find warmth and shelter.

References

1 Aaron R. Ellingson, Douglas C. Andersen and Boris C. Kondratieff (2002) Observations of the Larval Stages of Diceroprocta apache Davis (Homoptera: Tibicinidae), , Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society, Vol. 75, No. 4, pp. 283-289. Link.
2 Richard Fox, Tibicen spp, (2001) http://lanwebs.lander.edu/faculty/rsfox/invertebrates/tibicen.html
3 Soper RS, Delyzer AJ, & Smith LFR (1976) The genus Massospora entomopathogenic for cicadas. Part II. Biology of Massospora levispora and its host Okanagana rimosa, with notes on Massospora cicadina and the periodical cicadas. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 69(1):89-95.
4 Karban R. 1984. Opposite density effects of nymphal and adult mortality for periodical cicadas. Ecology 65: 1656-61.
5 Campbell et al. 10.1073/pnas.1421386112.
6 Moulds MS (1990) Australian Cicadas (New South Wales University Press, Kensington, NSW, Australia).
7 Hajong SR & Yaakop S (2013) Chremistica ribhoi sp. n. (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) from North-East India and its mass emergence. Zootaxa 3702(5):493.
8 Logan DP, Rowe CA, & Maher BJ (2014) Life history of chorus cicada, an endemic pest of kiwifruit (Cicadidae: Homoptera). New Zealand Entomologist:1-11.
9 Kathy Williams & Chris Simon, The Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution of Periodical Cicadas, (1995), Annu.Rev. Entomol. 40:269-95.
10 David C. Marshall, John R. Cooley, and Kathy Hill, Developmental Plasticity of Life-Cycle Length in Thirteen-Year Periodical Cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae), Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 104(3): 443Ð450 (2011)

July 9, 2017

My 2017 Brood X and VI Experiences

Filed under: Brood VI,Brood X,Life Cycle,Magicicada — Dan @ 8:28 am

I’ll cut to the chase, in terms of Brood VI, I only experienced the emergence via my web browser. I planned on visiting North Carolina but rain and car troubles stood in my way. I did travel to Wisconsin to try to find legendary populations said to exist there, but I found no cicadas. I drove routes 90, 14, 12, 23 and roads in between, but I had no luck finding them. My investigation was by no means comprehensive, but I covered as much ground as I could in the two days I was there, and found no periodical cicadas.

Brood X stragglers are a different story. I missed seeing the massive Virginia/Maryland area populations, but I was able to see cicadas in Princeton, and the significant emergence in the Dublin area of Ohio. Here is a map of where I saw periodical cicadas

Princeton, NJ

On May 20th I visited Princeton and found exuvia (shed skins/”shells”) on a pole next to where I parked my car, which was very encouraging. I headed for the Princeton Battle Monument park, a place where I saw massive numbers of cicadas in 2004. There, in 2017, I found exuvia but no adults — from 5 to as many as 200 per tree (I counted what I could see). The park was overflowing with squirrels and birds that would love to eat cicadas — I have no doubt why no stragglers survived. Black birds paced the lawn five abreast, like a small army systematically hunting for insect prey. During a normal emergence periodical cicadas emerge in such great numbers that many are able to get past the armies of hungry birds and rodents (this is called predator satiation). After visiting the park, I walked many side streets and found exuvia everywhere I went — not massive piles like we see during a normal, on-schedule emergence — but at least a few on every tree.

I returned on May 27th, and actually found adult cicadas in Princeton. I found dozens of Magicicada cassini and a few Magicicada septendecim. There were not enough adults to form viable choruses. I doubt few mated. I heard a single Magicicada cassini court song, so all least they were trying.

The most interesting cicada I saw was this Magicicada cassini with a mosaic pigment mutation, which caused the unusual orange marking on its abdomen. At first I thought it was a Magicicada septendecim, but Chris Simon confirmed that it was not.

Magicicada cassini with mosaic pigment mutation in Princeton 2017

I also drove Rt 29 from Trenton to Frenchtown, across Rt 12 to Flemmington, and down Rt 31 and heard no cicada populations. I visited Sourland Mountain. I visited many of the markers on Magicicada.org but found no cicadas, and certainly no viable adult populations (no singing, not enough to perpetuate a population).

North of Dublin, Ohio

On June 10th I made it to the suburbs north of Dublin, Ohio (itself north of Columbus). There I encountered a very active periodical cicada emergence. I mostly found Magicicada cassini, but I could hear Magicicada septendecim from time to time. I have little doubt that many cicadas mated and some of their progeny will survive to appear in another 14 or 17 years.

North of Dublin

Cedar Springs, OH

When I’m mapping cicadas I try to stop at every rest stop and welcome center to look for cicadas. I found periodical cicada exvuia at a rest stop on Rt 70 hear Cedar Springs, Ohio. This was a nice find because I didn’t see any signtings in this area on the Magicicada.org map.

Indianapolis, IN, near Ft. Harrison State park

I passed through Indianapolis, IN twice on my way to and from Wisconsin. I found some exuvia on the outskirts of Ft. Harrison State park, but nothing inside the park (weird).

July 5, 2017

The Dusk Singers

Filed under: Annual,Megatibicen,Neotibicen,United States — Dan @ 9:17 pm

The Dusk Singers

Dusk is the time of day between sunset and night. Many species of Megatibicen & Neotibicen (formerly Tibicen) sing at this time. I’m not sure why they sing at this time — perhaps it helps them avoid audio competition with other singing insects, or perhaps it helps them avoid predators by calling at this specific time of the day.

If you find yourself outdoors in the eastern half of the U.S. after sunset and hear a cicada call, it is likely one of the following Megatibicen or Neotibicen species:

Megatibicen

Megatibicen are LARGE and LOUD cicadas.

Megatibicen auletes aka the Northern Dusk Singing Cicada. This cicada can be found in these states: AL, AR, CT, DE, DC, FL, GA, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MD, MA, MI, MS, MO, NE, NJ, NY, NC, OH, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV, WI. Season: July to Fall.

M. auletes Call*:

Megatibicen figuratus aka the Fall Southeastern Dusk-singing Cicada. Found in: AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, TX, VA. Season: July to Fall.

M. figuratus Call*:

Megatibicen resh aka Resh Cicada aka Western Dusk Singing Cicada. Found in: AR, KS, LA, MS, NE, OK, SC, TN, TX. Season: July to Fall.

M. resh Call*:

Megatibicen resonans aka Southern Resonant/Great Pine Barrens Cicada aka Southern Dusk Singing Cicada. Found in AL, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, TX, VA. Season: July to Fall.

M. resonans Call*:

Neotibicen

Medium-sized, green cicadas with calls that sound like the rhythmic grinding of a scissor on a sharpening wheel (not a common tool in the 21st century).

Neotibicen pruinosus pruinosus aka Scissor(s) Grinder. Found in AL, AR, CO, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MI, MN, MS, MO, NE, OH, OK, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, WV, WI. Season: June – September. Neotibicen pruinosus fulvus aka Pale Scissor(s) Grinder Cicada. Found in: KS, OK. Season: June – September.

N. pruinosus Call*:

Neotibicen winnemanna aka Eastern Scissor(s) Grinder. Found in AL, DE, DC, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, NC, NJ, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV. Season: June – Fall.

N. winnemanna Call*:

*Audio files are Copyright of InsectSingers.com. Season information gathered from BugGuide.net.

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 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.

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