Cicada Mania

Dedicated to cicadas, the most amazing insects in the world.

February 18, 2019

The Curious Case of Cultriformis in California

Megatibicen cultriformis (Davis, 1915), aka the Grand Western Flood Plain Cicada, is large cicada found in the states Arizona and New Mexico in the U.S. and in Mexico. According to the Biogeography of the Cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) of North America, North of Mexico by Allen F. Sanborn and Polly K. Phillips, it is found in the Mexican Highland Section of the Basin and Range Province of the Sonoran Desert, and is associated with cottonwood and willow trees1.

Over the weekend, cicada collector Richard Newfrock emailed me some cicada photos for identification. Amongst those photos was what appears to be Megatibicen cultriformis labeled Escondido, Cal[iforia]. I asked Richard about the location, and sure enough, he said they were found in a pool in Escondido. I double-checked the species and location with top-tier cicada experts Jeffery Cole and David Marshall. From our conversation, I believe they agreed that the cicadas appeared to be M. cultriformis and that Escondido is far from its normal range (about 400 miles away).

Female (left), Male (right). Found floating in a pool.
Megatibicen cultriformis

So, how did these cicadas Megatibicen cultriformis end up in Escondido? More than likely, if they are truly M. cultriformis, they hitchhiked on a tree transported from Arizona to California — or as David Marshall said to me in an email, “it’s at least possible that cultriformis could have been introduced on the roots of saplings transplanted from Arizona”.

Does anyone in the Escondido area want to listen for these cicadas in the summer and report back to us if you hear them?

Listen to its song:

Source: ©Insect Singers

Scientific classification:
Family: Cicadidae
SubFamily: Cicadinae
Tribe: Cryptotympanini
SubTribe: Cryptotympanina
Genera: Megatibicen
Species: Megatibicen cultriformis (Davis, 1915)

William T Davis’s description from A New Cicada from Arizona2:

Resembles Cicada marginata Say [now called Megatibicen pronotalis walkeri Metcalf, 1955] in size, color, and markings. Head black with an oblong greenish yellow spot each side between the eyes and a small spot of the same color on the front just above the transverse rugae. Pronotum greenish yellow with a large, conspicuous black spot occupying the fore part of its central area. The hind margin of the pronotum (collar) is entirely unicolorous as in marginata. The mesonotum is black, with a pruinose band each side at the base of the wings; the elevated x is greenish yellow, and there are two conspicuous, irregularly formed (pipe-shaped) greenish yellow spots occupying its central portion. The tergum is black, each side broadly margined with pruinose, and the segments have their posterior margins yellowish. There is also an indication of a dorsal line of pruinose spots on the tergum, which in the type have been nearly worn off. Beneath the head is blackish, the remainder of the insect being greenish yellow and more or less pruinose. The costal margin of the fore wing is entirely greenish yellow, darkened beyond the middle, and the w-mark is inconspicuous. Both fore and hind wings are greenish-yellow at base, with the veins darkened beyond the middle.

Note that greens often fade to tannish colors after a cicada dies.

Trivia: In Latin, “cultr” means knife, and “form” means shape — cultriformis means knife-shaped. Davis named cultriformis because “uncus locks, which are s millimeters long in cultriformis, and when seen in profile are shaped like the blade of a pruning knife, hence the name.” The uncus is the male genitalia.

Resources:

January 11, 2019

Quesada gigas (Olivier, 1790)

Quesada gigas (Olivier, 1790) Is a cicada found in the United States (Texas), Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Tobago, Trinidad, and Venezuela. It is the largest cicada in these locations.

Visit this page to listen to their song.

Quesada gigas was formerly known as Tympanoterpes gigas.

Scientific classification:
Family: Cicadidae
SubFamily: Cicadinae
Tribe: Hyantiini
Genus: Quesada
Species: Quesada gigas (Olivier, 1790)

Quesada gigas (Olivier, 1790)
The image says Tympanoterpes gigas but its newest name is Quesada gigas.

Quesada gigas
Photo by Leonardo Milhomem.

Species description notes from Insect. Rhynchota.:

Stal treated this species as a synonym of T. grossa, Fabr. The type of the Fabrician species, however, is in the Banksian collection contained in the British Museum, and is very distinct, the opercula being large and rounded.

The figure given in the Encyclopedic Methodique is, like Stal’s, useless for any practical purpose. Among the habitats of this wide-ranging species is that given by Walker 2, ” West coast of America,” which, as before remarked in connexion with other species, seems clearly to refer to Central America. The forms inhabiting this region (of which a Guatemalan specimen is figured) appear to be somewhat smaller than more southern specimens, or do not exhibit the gigantic specimens which are frequently and commonly received from the southern portion of the Neotropical Region.

Mr. Gervase F. Mathew (Ent. Mo. Mag. xi. p. 175) gives some interesting details relating to this insect as observed at Tobago. As regards its powers of stridulation he writes of a ” tropical afternoon: ” — ” Suddenly, from right above, you hear one or two hoarse, monotonous cries something like the croak of a tree-frog, and, looking upwards, wonder what it can be. But wait a moment ; this is merely a signal ; for the next minute everywhere above and around you these croaks are repeated in rapid and increasing succession until they merge into a long shrill whistle almost exactly similar to the whistle of a first-rate locomotive ; this continues for nearly half a minute, and then abruptly terminates.” ” Presently similar cries will be heard in the far distance, as if in reply to those which have just died away overhead. The whistling pierces one’s ears to such a degree that its vibrations can be felt long after it has ceased.”

Mr. Mathew describes this species as frequenting trees growing in ravines where the soil is generally soft and damp, in which their larvae and pupae find no difficulty in burrowing. ” When the latter are full-grown and ready for their last transformation, they emerge from the ground and crawl about four or five feet up the trunk of a tree, when they firmly fix themselves to the bark by means of their powerfully hooked fore tibiae.” ” The flight of the mature Cicada is abrupt, rapid, and by no means graceful ; and it does not appear to have the power of controlling itself when on the wing ; for I have often seen it fly in an insane manner against the trunk of a tree, a branch, or any other object that might be in its line of flight; and when it has performed its journey without any accident, it alights abruptly and awkwardly. As a rule, however, it does not attempt to fly to any great distance at a time.”

References:

  1. The illustration comes from Biologia Centrali-Americana. Insecta. Rhynchota. Hemiptera-Homoptera. Vol. 1. By W. L. Distant F.E.S. and The Rev. Canon W. W. Fowler, F.L.S. (1881-1905). Read it on the Biodiversity Heritage Library website.
  2. Species name information comes from Allen Sanborn’s Catalogue of the Cicadoidea (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha).

January 9, 2019

Neocicada australamexicana Sanborn & Sueur, 2005

Neocicada australamexicana Sanborn & Sueur, 2005 is a cicada found in Mexico. There’s a very similar cicada in the United Stated called Neocicada hieroglyphica hieroglyphica (Say, 1830).

Neocicada australamexicana was formerly known as Tettigia hieroglyphica.

Scientific classification:
Family: Cicadidae
SubFamily: Cicadinae
Tribe: Cicadini
SubTribe: Leptopsaltriina [slender Harp player in Greek]
Genus: Neocicada
Species: Neocicada australamexicana Sanborn & Sueur, 2005

Neocicada australamexicana Sanborn & Sueur, 2005
The image says Tettigia hieroglyphica, but the newest name for this cicada is Neocicada australamexicana.

References:

  1. The illustration comes from Biologia Centrali-Americana. Insecta. Rhynchota. Hemiptera-Homoptera. Vol. 1. By W. L. Distant F.E.S. and The Rev. Canon W. W. Fowler, F.L.S. (1881-1905). Read it on the Biodiversity Heritage Library website.
  2. Species name information comes from Allen Sanborn’s Catalogue of the Cicadoidea (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha).

January 8, 2019

Tettigades mexicana Distant, 1881

Tettigades mexicana Distant, 1881, is a cicada found in Mexico.

Scientific classification:
Family: Cicadidae
SubFamily: Tibicininae
Tribe: Tettigadini
Genus: Tettigades
Species: Tettigades mexicana Distant, 1881

Tettigades mexicana Distant, 1881

Species description by W. L. Distant:

Head above black, front with an arcuated fascia at each, side of base of face on anterior margin, an indistinct, narrow, broken, central longitudinal fascia on vertex, and a broad streak behind inner margin of eyes, luteous. Pronotum with the disk ochraceous, having a large reversed triangular spot on anterior margin, a large oblique patch on each side behind eyes, and a small central transverse line near posterior margin fuscous; anterior border narrowly, lateral and posterior borders broadly luteous. Mesonotum black, with two central pale lines commencing on anterior margin and terminating about one third the length of mesonotum; basal elevation with large horn-like and branching angles extending therefrom to about centre of disk, and frenum, luteous. Abdomen black, strongly pilose, with the posterior segmental borders narrowly ochraceous. Underside of body and legs luteous ; base and central fascia to face, inner margin of eyes, some irregular marks on sternum and near coxae, a linear streak on each side of femora, a spot on trochanters, a marginal segmental row of spots to abdomen, and a large quadrate spot on apical segment fuscous. Tegmina pale hyaline; radial and postcostal veins, and venation of apical third of tegmina fuscous; postcostal ulnar ramus and remaining venation luteous. “Wings pale hyaline; basal half of venation luteous, apical half fuscous.

The face is moderately convex and gibbous, distinctly transversely striated, with a broad central longitudinal sulcation, the edges of which are slightly raised. The rostrum in the typical specimen has the apical joint mutilated, but apparently about reaches the posterior coxa?. The anterior femora are armed with two strong spines. Body very strongly pilose.

Long. 22 millim., exp. tegm. 68 millim.

References:

  1. The illustration comes from Biologia Centrali-Americana. Insecta. Rhynchota. Hemiptera-Homoptera. Vol. 1. By W. L. Distant F.E.S. and The Rev. Canon W. W. Fowler, F.L.S. (1881-1905). Read it on the Biodiversity Heritage Library website.
  2. Species name information comes from Allen Sanborn’s Catalogue of the Cicadoidea (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha).

January 7, 2019

Ollanta modesta (Distant, 1881)

Ollanta modesta (Distant, 1881) is a cicada found in Mexico and Nicaragua.

Ollanta modesta was formerly known as Selymbria modesta.

Scientific classification:
Family: Cicadidae
SubFamily: Cicadinae
Tribe: Fidicinini
SubTribe: Guyalnina
Genus: Ollanta
Species: Ollanta modesta (Distant, 1881)

Ollanta modesta (Distant, 1881)
The image says Selymbria modesta, but the newest name of this cicada is Ollanta modesta.

Species description by W. L. Distant:

Body dull testaceous. Head with the frontal margin, area of the ocelli, and posterior margin of eyes fuscous. Pronotum with two central fuscous fasciae on anterior margin, and sometimes two smaller ones on posterior margin. Mesonotum with two large obconical central spots on anterior margin; on each side of these a longer and more obscure obconical fascia, and a transverse fascia on disk, preceded by two small spots, fuscous. Basal margins of scutellum and abdominal segments fuscous. Body beneath paler; anterior margin of head and inner margin of eyes black. Tegmina pale hyaline; neuration ochraceous or dull testaceous (sometimes with the basal half much paler); transverse veins at the base of second and third apical areas, and a submarginal row of spots on longitudinal veins of first, second, and third apical areas fuscous. Wings pale hyaline, with the nervures ochraceous or testaceous.

Head, including eyes, equal in breadth to base of pronotum; face with a very deep central longitudinal sulcation, and strongly and transversely striate. Opercula pale, broad, not passing base of first abdominal segment, and narrowed but not meeting interiorly.

Long. 16 millim., exp. tegm. 57 millim.

This is the only Central- American species of the genus with which I am acquainted. It varies somewhat in the markings of the pronotum and mesonotum.

References:

  1. The illustration comes from Biologia Centrali-Americana. Insecta. Rhynchota. Hemiptera-Homoptera. Vol. 1. By W. L. Distant F.E.S. and The Rev. Canon W. W. Fowler, F.L.S. (1881-1905). Read it on the Biodiversity Heritage Library website.
  2. Species name information comes from Allen Sanborn’s Catalogue of the Cicadoidea (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha).

January 6, 2019

Proarna sallaei Stål, 1864

Proarna sallaei Stål, 1864 is a cicada found in Mexico.

Scientific classification:
Family: Cicadidae
SubFamily: Cicadinae
Tribe: Fidicinini
SubTribe: Guyalnina
Genus: Proarna
Species: Proarna sallaei Stål, 1864

References:

  1. The illustration comes from Biologia Centrali-Americana. Insecta. Rhynchota. Hemiptera-Homoptera. Vol. 1. By W. L. Distant F.E.S. and The Rev. Canon W. W. Fowler, F.L.S. (1881-1905). Read it on the Biodiversity Heritage Library website.
  2. Species name information comes from Allen Sanborn’s Catalogue of the Cicadoidea (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha).

January 5, 2019

Cacama maura (Distant, 1881)

Cacama maura (Distant, 1881) is a cicada found in Mexico.

Cacama maura was formerly known as Proarna maura, but its name changed when it moved from the genus Cacama Distant, 1904 to the genus Proarna Stål, 1864.

Scientific classification:
Family: Cicadidae
SubFamily: Cicadinae
Tribe: Cryptotympanini
SubTribe: Cryptotympanina
Genus: Cacama
Species: Cacama maura (Distant, 1881)

Cacama maura (Distant, 1881)
The image says Proarna maura, but the newest name of this cicada is Cacama maura.

Species description by W. L. Distant:

Body and legs black; frontal margin of head, posterior margin of pronotum, lateral margins of face, apices of femora, and bases of tibiae dull obscure ochraceous; eyes luteous; lateral margins of sternum broadly margined with white pile. Tegmina pale hyaline, veins fuscous; basal area, costal membrane, and transverse veins at bases of second and third apical areas black. “Wings hyaline, veins fuscous, basal area black.

Body very broad and robust, with the segmental apices acute; head, including eyes, much narrower than base of pronotum. Face with the sides strongly striated, centre not sulcated, its width equal to its distance from outer margin of eyes. Rostrum reaching posterior coxae. Opercula large, oblong, black, straight outwardly, rounded posteriorly, slightly overlapping at inner margins near base.

Long. 25 millim., exp. tegm. 70 millim.

This species represents a distinct section of the genus, having the apices of the segments acute and the body very broad. This division, in every respect, including the black colour, exactly corresponds with a like divergence in the genus Cicada, as represented by C. robusta, Dist.

References:

  1. The illustration, location info and descriptions comes from Biologia Centrali-Americana. Insecta. Rhynchota. Hemiptera-Homoptera. Vol. 1. By W. L. Distant F.E.S. and The Rev. Canon W. W. Fowler, F.L.S. (1881-1905). Read it on the Biodiversity Heritage Library website.
  2. Species name information comes from Allen Sanborn’s Catalogue of the Cicadoidea (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha).

January 4, 2019

Cacama longirostris (Distant, 1881)

Cacama longirostris (Distant, 1881) is a cicada found in Mexico.

Cacama longirostris was formerly known as Proarna longirostris, but its name changed when it moved from the genus Cacama Distant, 1904 to the genus Proarna Stål, 1864.

Scientific classification:
Family: Cicadidae
SubFamily: Cicadinae
Tribe: Cryptotympanini
SubTribe: Cryptotympanina
Genus: Cacama
Species: Cacama longirostris (Distant, 1881)

Cacama longirostris (Distant, 1881)
The image says Proarna longirostris, but the newest name of this cicada is Cacama longirostris.

Species description by W. L. Distant:

Closely allied to P. maura [now Cacama maura (Distant, 1881)], Dist., but differs by the greater amount of the ochraceous markings on the pro- and mesonotum, in having a large ochraceous spot on each lateral margin of the abdomen above, and a small spot of the same colour on each side of the anal appendage, in the much smaller black basal area to the tegmina, and the almost absence of the same to the wings. The body beneath, including the legs and opercula, is ochraceous, the abdomen having the lateral margins and anal appendage black. Its principal structural difference is the length of the rostrum, which reaches the apex of the first abdominal segment.

Long. 24 millim., exp. tegm. 71 millim.

References:

  1. The illustration comes from Biologia Centrali-Americana. Insecta. Rhynchota. Hemiptera-Homoptera. Vol. 1. By W. L. Distant F.E.S. and The Rev. Canon W. W. Fowler, F.L.S. (1881-1905). Read it on the Biodiversity Heritage Library website.
  2. Species name information comes from Allen Sanborn’s Catalogue of the Cicadoidea (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha).

January 3, 2019

Pacarina championi (Distant, 1881)

Pacarina championi (Distant, 1881) is a cicada found in Mexico, Guatemala, and Costa Rica.

Scientific classification:
Family: Cicadidae
SubFamily: Cicadinae
Tribe: Fidicinini
SubTribe: Guyalnina
Genus: Pacarina
Species: Pacarina championi (Distant, 1881)

Pacarina championi was formerly known as Proarna championi. Its name changed when it moved from the genus Proarna Stål, 1864 to the genus Pacarina Distant, 1905.

Pacarina championi (Distant, 1881)
The image says Proarna championi but its newest name is Pacarina championi.

Species description by W. L. Distant:

Body above dull testaceous, somewhat sparingly pilose. Head with the frontal margin, a transverse fascia in front of eyes, and area of the ocelli black. Pronotum with two central longitudinal fasciae, two oblique striae on each side, and inner lateral margin black. Mesonotum with two large obconical basal spots, bordered on each side by a larger obconical fascia, and a small transverse fascia on disk, preceded by two small rounded spots, black. Abdomen above somewhat thickly covered with white pile, and with the basal segmental margins fuscous. Body beneath paler; anterior submarginal fascia to head, central fascia and transverse ridges to face, and apex of rostrum black. Legs unicolorous, apices of tibiae and tarsi testaceous.

Tegmina pale hyaline; veins ochraceous, darker towards apex; base and apex of first apical area, and transverse veins at base of second and third apical areas, broadly fuscous; base of first ulnar area thickened, opaque, and fuscous. Wings pale hyaline, veins ochraceous.

The face is globose, strongly transversely striated, but not sulcated longitudinally; and in width, it equals its distance from outer margin of eyes. The opercula are broad, not passing base of first abdominal segment, somewhat narrowed and almost meeting interiorly. (In the specimen figured the opercula are pale and unicolorous; in other specimens, they are inwardly and broadly margined with black.)

Long. 14 to 16 millim., exp. tegm. 45 to 52 millim.

References:

  1. The illustration comes from Biologia Centrali-Americana. Insecta. Rhynchota. Hemiptera-Homoptera. Vol. 1. By W. L. Distant F.E.S. and The Rev. Canon W. W. Fowler, F.L.S. (1881-1905). Read it on the Biodiversity Heritage Library website.
  2. Species name information comes from Allen Sanborn’s Catalogue of the Cicadoidea (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha).

January 1, 2019

Odopoea signoreti Stål, 1864

Odopoea signoreti Stål, 1864 is a cicada found in Mexico.

Scientific classification:
Family: Cicadidae
SubFamily: Cicadinae
Tribe: Zammarini
Genus: Odopoea
Species: Odopoea signoreti Stål, 1864

Odopoea signoreti Stål, 1864

References:

  1. The illustration comes from Biologia Centrali-Americana. Insecta. Rhynchota. Hemiptera-Homoptera. Vol. 1. By W. L. Distant F.E.S. and The Rev. Canon W. W. Fowler, F.L.S. (1881-1905). Read it on the Biodiversity Heritage Library website.
  2. Name verification comes from Allen Sanborn’s Catalogue of the Cicadoidea (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha).

Older Posts »