Cicada Mania

The Cicada Mania Blog: News, Findings, and Discoveries About Cicadas.

August 9, 2013

August is a great time to look for Tibicen cicadas in North America

Filed under: North America,Tibicen,Video — by @ 9:33 am

Now is a great time to look and listen for Tibicen cicadas in North America. Tibicen are the medium to large sized annual cicadas. Typically they are well camouflaged – with colors like black, white, green & brown.

During the day you can listen for them, of course, and spot them that way. Try Insect Singers for cicada songs. You can also look for their exuvia (skins), and if you’re lucky you can catch on on a low branch.

Last night I started looking around 10pm and found three Swamp Cicadas (T. tibicen tibicen) shedding their skins on trees around the yard. I also collected about 30 exuvia (skins). All in a quarter acre yard. Take a look at this video:

Swamp Cicada shedding its nymphal skin from Cicada Mania on Vimeo.

Swamp Cicada

Teneral Swamp Cicada

April 9, 2013

Biogeography of the Cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) of North America, North of Mexico

We are excited to announce the availability of a document by Allen F. Sanborn and Polly K. Phillips titled Biogeography of the Cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) of North America, North of Mexico. This document features distribution maps for North American cicada species! This document is an excellent companion to The Cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadoidea: Cicadidae) of North America North of Mexico by Allen F. Sanborn and Maxine S. Heath (link to that book).

You can download the PDF here www.cicadamania.com/downloads/diversity-05-00166.pdf.

Abstract: We describe and illustrate the biogeography of the cicadas inhabiting continental North America, north of Mexico. Species distributions were determined through our collecting efforts as well as label data from more than 110 institutional collections. The status of subspecies is discussed with respect to their distributions. As we have shown over limited geographic areas, the distribution of individual species is related to the habitat in which they are found. We discuss the biogeography of the genera with respect to their phylogenetic relationships. California is the state with the greatest alpha diversity (89 species, 46.6% of taxa) and unique species (35 species, 18.3% of taxa). Texas, Arizona, Colorado and Utah are the states with the next greatest alpha diversity with Texas, Arizona and Utah being next for unique species diversity. Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island are the states with the least amount of cicada diversity. Diversity is greatest in states and areas where there is a diversity of plant communities and habitats within these communities. Mountainous terrain also coincides with increases in diversity. Several regions of the focus area require additional collection efforts to fill in the distributions of several species.
Keywords: cicada; distribution; Diceroprocta; Tibicen; Okanagana; Okanagodes; Cacama; Magicicada; Platypedia; Cicadetta

An example of a map from the document:

Example Map

February 4, 2013

A day at the Staten Island Museum

I spent most of the day at the Staten Island Museum. The Staten Island Museum has North America’s largest collection of cicadas — over 35,000 specimens!!! Most, if not all the specimens came from William T. Davis’ personal collection. Davis was a naturalist and entomologist located in Staten Island, NY, who was active in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s. Read more about the collection.

The museum is currently working on a huge cicada exhibit and many cicada events throughout the year. The They’re Baaack! Return of the 17-year Cicada Family Day event will happen in a few weeks.

Here’s a few shots of the museum and the collection I took with my camera phone:

Part of their giant Wall of Insects:


S.I. Wall of Insects

Number 39 in that photo is Hemisciera maculipennis, aka the “stop and go cicada”. When alive the cicada’s coloring is green and red, like a traffic signal. Here is a photo of a live H. maculipennis.

Tibicen and Cicada Killer Wasps:


Tibicen and Cicada Killer Wasps

Tacua speciosa detail:


Tacua speciosa

A giant light-up cicada outside the museum:

Light Up Cicada

Just part of the Staten Island Museum’s cicada collection


Staten Island Museum Cicada Collection

Thanks to Ed Johnson, Director of Science, for showing me many of amazing specimens in the museum’s collection.

Bonus: You can download a copy of William T. Davis’ document North American Cicadas. It’s free!

December 9, 2012

Two new cicada publications worth reading

Filed under: Allen F. Sanborn,North America — by @ 1:46 pm

Two relatively new cicada publications that should be worth reading:

1) Avian Predation Pressure as a Potential Driver of Periodical Cicada Cycle Length by Walter D. Koenig and Andrew M. Liebhold, The American Naturalist. This is a newly electronically published paper about what drives the long, prime-numbered lifecycle of Magicicada periodical cicadas.

Abstract:

The extraordinarily long life cycles, synchronous emergences at 13- or 17-year intervals, and complex geographic distribution of periodical cicadas (Magicicada spp.) in eastern North America are a long-standing evolutionary enigma. Although a variety of factors, including satiation of aboveground predators and avoidance of interbrood hybridization, have been hypothesized to shape the evolution of this system, no empirical support for these mechanisms has previously been reported, beyond the observation that bird predation can extirpate small, experimentally mistimed emergences. Here we show that periodical cicada emergences appear to set populations of potential avian predators on numerical trajectories that result in significantly lower potential predation pressure during the subsequent emergence. This result provides new support for the importance of predators in shaping periodical cicada life history, offers an ecological rationale for why emergences are synchronized at the observed multiyear intervals, and may explain some of the developmental plasticity observed in these unique insects.

Order it from JSTOR.

2) The Cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadoidea: Cicadidae) of N. America North of Mexico by Allen F. Sanborn and Maxine S. Heath. 227 pages.

A comprehensive review of the North Amerian cicada fauna that provides information on synonymies, type localities, and type material. There are 170 species and 21 subspecies found in continental N. America north of Mexico. The book has 211 figures with each species photographed in color.

Buy it from the Entomological Society of America website. I’ve already ordered mine.

I can’t wait for Sanborn’s book on Central and South America (hopefully, that will arrive within the next few years).

Update:

I’ve received Allen F. Sanborn and Maxine S. Heath’s book. It’s focus is on identifying all species of cicada fauna in North America, north of Mexico, as the title says. It also identifies species that were reported to exist in this location, but do not. The book provides maps and common attributes of each genus of cicada, and then for each species it provides photos of the holotype (and the location of the holotype), as well as a history of its taxonomy.