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June 25, 2016

My 2016 Brood V Experience

Filed under: Brood V,John Cooley,Magicicada,Matt Berger,Periodical — Dan @ 11:20 am

Magicicada exuvia on an oak leaf
Many exuvia clinging to oak leaves. Core Arboretum, WVU.

My plan was to check out Maryland first, then head to West Virginia for a few days, and then Ohio. If weather, time and patience allowed, Virginia and Long Island, New York. Like all my periodical cicada trips I start by consulting the map on Magicicada.org to see where folks are finding cicadas. I also consult with the folks who study periodical cicadas professionally to discover their favorite hot spots and any locations of particular scientific interest. This year, the interesting spot was north-western Maryland — more on that later.

Here’s my own map of my journey in terms of the places I saw/heard cicadas. Generally speaking, you’ll see a lot of pin-drops for Magicicada cassini on the map. This is because you can hear them while driving at 70mph. You often have to stop your car and turn off the engine to hear the other species, so even though there’s lots of M. cassini on the map, there’s probably just as much M. septendecim. Generally speaking, my mapping methodology works like this: I stop and take notes when I can (usually at rest stops, parks or when I’m staying in a particular town — see Morgantown & Athens later in the article) and this is when I’ll hear M. septendecim & M. septendecula, but when I’m driving interstate highways at high speeds (with a parade of angry drivers who would rather tailgate me that use the left lane to go around me) I can only take data points for M. cassini.

What do I bring with me on a seven day cicada road trip? Aside from clothes, road food, smartphone, and my AAA card, I bring equipment to aide my study of cicadas:

  • A junk computer. A decrepit laptop that I won’t care if it gets stolen.
  • A video camera.
  • A device for measuring sound level (decibels).
  • A notepad and pen (because technology fails).
  • Butterfly pavilions, which are these expandable enclosures for holding and observing insects.
  • Containers for holding dead specimens, and silica gel to keep them dry. Note: before you collect, make sure it is legal in the location you plan to collect. Collecting wildlife from National Parks is illegal. Collecting cicadas from a Hampton Inn parking lot is usually okay.
  • Suntan lotion and Bug Spray. I like insects, but ticks and mosquitos can turn cicada observation into a nightmare. Many researchers wear pyrethrum treated clothes (yes, bad for cats).
  • A flashlight.
  • Cicada Mania pins for folks I meet along the way.

What I don’t bring but should is one of John Cooley’s Cicada O Matic GPS Dataloggers. I have to make observations by hand.

Other than that, I follow the typical Power Vacation rules.

Maryland Part 1:

The first town I hit was Accident, Maryland (great name). There were sightings on the Magicicada.org map, and the name of the town was awesome, so I wanted to check it out. Unfortunately I didn’t observe any cicadas there.

Route 68, West Virginia

Traveling west along Route 68, about half-way between the center of Bruceton Mills and Coopers Rock State Forest I started to hear pockets of M. cassini. I stopped at Coopers Rock, and at first I was disappointed: I didn’t hear any cicadas from my car. Once I stopped my car and turned off the engine I could hear them: M. septendecim with their spooky sci-fi UFO chorus in the distance. It became obvious that the park had a healthy population of M. septendecim, with a smattering of M. cassini as well.

Morgantown, WV

Next I arrived at Morgantown, WV. Some twitter friends had been posting cicada photos from there, so I thought it would be a good location to set up base and make observations for a few days. The hotel I chose had an excellent population of M. septedecim and cassini around it; so much so that the staff couldn’t keep up with unwanted cicada guests that littered their doorway, trampled by oblivious human guests.

My first day there I walked around the West Virginia University campus near the hospital, stadium & iHop. The sky was overcast and it was getting late in the afternoon, but it was clear that the campus and town had an abundance of periodical cicadas, and that I made a good choice in setting up camp there. At night, in my hotel parking lot, I was able to watch cicadas emerge as nymphs as transform into adults, which is always a highlight of an emergence for me.

WVU Core Arboretum

Core Arboretum is a large botanical garden devoted to trees (“arbor”) on the WVU campus. It was an excellent place to observe cicadas. I was able to observe all three species, the tiny but LOUD M. cassini, the larger & relatively docile M. septendecim, and the rarest of the species M. septendecula. Finding M. septendecula so early in my trip was a treat. Their clockwork/tambourine sound (at least that’s what I think they sound like) gave them away.

I met entomologists Matt Berger, who has contributed many cicada photos to this site over the years, and his colleague HereBeSpiders11 (twitter name). Awesome people. I met Zachariah Fowler, the director of the arboretum as well. Another awesome person.

Magicicada white eyes 3
A white-eyed Magicicada septendecim.

I was able to check off many of my cicada checklist items in Morgantown: I found a white-eyed cicada, I saw & heard all three species, and more.

Leaving West Virginia, Entering Ohio

M. cassini were plentiful along route 79 and 50 headed west towards Athens, Ohio. Along the way I made a few stops and heard & observed some M. septendecim as well.

Athens, Ohio

Athens was another good location to stay and observe cicadas. The parks in the surrounding area had excellent cicada populations, and I had a rare chance to meet John Cooley of Magicicada.org.

My first day in Athens I spent at Dow Lake in Strouds Run State Park. There I met John Cooley who was there showing a German film crew the particulars of cicada behavior. Dow Lake had a healthy mix of LOUD M. cassini and M. septendecim, but the cassini definitely dominated. The highlight for me was not a cicada, but spotting a rat snake climbing down from an acacia tree where it was no-doubt snacking on cicadas.

Sells Park in Athens was a nice place to hear VERY LOUD M. cassini choruses, well into the high 80-90db mark. So loud that I limited by time there, and left after an hour.

Hocking Hills

Hocking Hills is an amazing park north of Athens than features a spectacular above-ground cave and many acres of forest filled with cicadas. Hocking Hills had a good population of all three species, and M. septendecula were unusually easy to find. They seem to have preferred areas where deciduous trees blended with evergreens, at least in the locations I found.

Vinton Furnace Experimental Forest

A Magicicada cassini chorus from the Experimental Forest:

A Magicicada chorus with audible M. septendecula from the Experimental Forest:

Vinton Furnace Experimental Forest is a forest curated to include as much biological diversity as possible. All three periodical cicada species make up part of that diversity. M. septendcula choruses were very easy to find. The forest was thrilling to visit — aside from the biting deer flies, it was exhilarating to see or hear so many species of insects, birds and plants in one place. Also, thrilling were the winding one-lane dirt roads; I almost died a few times thanks to wild drivers out for a pretend Finland Rally race.

Back to Maryland

After an overnight stop back in Morgantown, WV, I headed back to Maryland to prove (or disprove) that periodical cicadas were there, and if I did find them, the extent of their population. It is important to show the limits of their population as researchers (John Cooley in particular) are interesting in demonstrating that the Brood V population in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia & Maryland is distinct from the population in Virginia.

I’m happy to report that I did find periodical cicadas in Maryland. The populations were mostly the relatively quieter M. septendecim — the type you really have to stop the car & turn off the engine to be certain they’re there. I did find M. cassini as well, but M. septendecim dominated. The adorably named Friendsville and Selbysport had good populations, as did the hill above the Youghioghheny river overlook rest stop on I68. South of this area, I did not hear or see cicadas on Bear Creek Road, Rt 42, rt 219 or rt 495. It is possible there are pockets of cicadas deep in the woods and out of earshot in those areas, but it is clear there was no great population of periodical cicadas in those areas, if any at all. I spoke to a chainsaw bear sculptor in Bittinger, which is not far from where the Appalachian Plateau ends & the Ridge and Valley area starts. I showed him a photo of a periodical cicada. He said he had never seen them in his life, and nor did he see them in Accident where he went to church. He did hear about them on the news, so he was aware of them.

Maryland

Pennsylvania, and home

After collecting cicada data and buying a chainsaw bear, I headed north into Pennsylvania. I stopped at a rest stop, enjoyed the last I would hear of Brood V, and headed back home.

More!

May 7, 2016

Magicicada Media Faux Pas

Filed under: Chris Simon,Magicicada,Periodical — Dan @ 7:38 am

cicada invasion

The media (news papers, bloggers, etc.) sometimes use terms to describe cicadas, and periodical cicada emergences, that range from simply incorrect to grossly hyperbolic. It is unclear if they do this to match reader expectations, to get more clicks, to write a more entertaining article, or simply because they don’t have all the facts. It bothers me when the media uses a photo or video of the wrong species, which is why I have the use the correct image page.

What media mistakes have you witnessed? Let us know in the comments.

Professor Chris Simon, of the University of Connecticut Simon Lab, is one of the premier cicada experts in the world. She provided us with her list of Magicicada Media Faux Pas (below). How many of these have you seen? Can you think of more?

Incorrect Descriptive Words

  • “swarm” They don’t swarm—i.e. fly around in large groups.
  • “invasion” They don’t invade. They have been there the whole time.
  • “plague”
    They are not a plague like grasshoppers that come in and eat everything–they don’t chew leaves. They suck.
  • “overrun” Implies that they are imposing us when in fact we are much more of an imposition on them–clearing their trees and building Walmarts on top of them.

Here are some more funny ones…

  • “lurking underground” They are not lurking or threatening, they are innocently feeding on tree roots.
  • “hatching out of the ground”  They don’t hatch out  of the ground, they hatched from eggs in tree branches 17years ago.

April 30, 2016

64 Degrees Fahrenheit Eight Inches Deep

Filed under: James Edward Heath,Magicicada,Periodical — Dan @ 1:22 am

hot under the exoskeleton

Soil temperature triggers periodical cicada emergences:

James Edward Heath in his paper Thermal Synchronization of Emergence in Periodical “17-year” Cicadas (Homoptera, Cicadidae, Magicicada)1 discovered that periodical cicadas will emerge, on average, when the soil 8 inches below the ground reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit:

Soil temperature at 20-cm [7.87 in] depth in seven locations averaged 17.89 C [64.202 F] at the time of emergence, regardless of date. Cicadas emerging from burrows had average body temperatures of 18.04 C [64.472 F]. Synchrony in emergence may be due to animals reaching a critical threshold temperature.

The soil warms their bodies and that triggers the cicadas to emerge.

A warm rain, which will seep into the earth and warm the bodies of cicadas, can trigger a “particularly intensive” emergence.

Alexander and Moore (1962) noted that emergences were par- ticularly intensive following warm rains ( > 2 0 C ? ). I believe this suggests that the soil temperature probably was near emergence tem- perature and the heat transported by the water percolating into the ground warmed the soil sufficiently to raise soil temperature above the emergence threshold.

Some unanswered questions I have are: 1) how long does the temperature have to be 64°F+ – just a moment, or a certain number of hours, and 2) because we know not all cicadas emerge instantaneously, what is the maximum temperature that for certain will clear them from the soil?

This is an example of a temperature probe use to study the emergence temperature of cicadas. The probe in this picture is held by cicada researcher Gene Kritsky:
Temperature probe

Note that males typically emerge before females, and that the larger ‘decim species emerge before the smaller cassini species.

For a more modern, crowd-sourced study of this see the radiolab Cicada Tracker project.

I think I know what you’re thinking: “I don’t own a temperature probe, how can I guess when the temperature is 64°F 8” below the soil? Direct sunlight, air temperature and rain warms the soil. Southern facing land will warm sooner than northern facing land. Land in direct sunlight will warm faster than land in shade. Rainfall on a 80°+ day will quickly do the trick, but two weeks of temps in the 70°’s should work as well. So keep an eye on the 10-day weather forecast and watch for those days in the 70s, and especially the 80s.

Minimum Flight Temperature:
Their body temperature needs to be a little warmer than that to fly. Their minimum flight temperature (MFT) is 18-21°C / 65-70°F. The temperature varies depending on the Brood and species. They’ll need a few more degrees before they’re fully functional, and start singing and mating.

So, until their bodies are about 72°F (“room temperature”) they won’t be flying, singing and mating.

Maximum voluntary tolerance temperature:
Maximum voluntary tolerance temperature (MVT) for periodical cicadas is 31-34°C / 88-93°F, again depending on Brood and species. Maximum voluntary tolerance is the point at which cicadas seek shade and when thermoregulation takes precedence over other behaviors.

See Thermal responses of periodical cicadas: within and between brood parity (Hemiptera: Cicadidae: Magicicada spp.) and Thermoregulation by Endogenous Heat Production in Two South American Grass Dwelling Cicadas (Homoptera: Cicadidae: Proarna) for more information.

1 Thermal Synchronization of Emergence in Periodical “17-year” Cicadas (Homoptera, Cicadidae, Magicicada) by James Edward Heath, American Midland Naturalist, Vol. 80, No. 2. (Oct., 1968), pp. 440-448.

December 4, 2015

New Zealand Cicada Information 🇳🇿

Filed under: Amphipsalta,David Marshall,Kathy Hill,New Zealand — Dan @ 8:39 pm

Old Map of New Zealand

There isn’t a lot of New Zealand cicada information on this website, but I wanted to point you to a few good resources if you are interested:

First, there’s the NEW ZEALAND CICADAS (HEMIPTERA: CICADIDAE): A VIRTUAL IDENTIFICATION GUIDE which features photographs and extensive information about the cicadas of New Zealand. The site has an abundance of information, and a wonderful design & layout.

Second, there’s Cicada Central’s New Zealand Cicada website, which features an electronic field guide of New Zealand Cicada Species, a specimen database, and a photo gallery featuring Kikihia, Amphipsaltas and Maoricicada.

I asked David Marshall of InsectSingers.com, “when does New Zealand cicada season start and end?” His answer essentially is that it depends on the location, elevation and species, but the best months are between December and April. Interestingly, in certain locations K. muta sing every month of the year.

David also mentioned the Amphipsalta zelandica (Feb-March) which calls using wing-clicks! Here is a video.

Chorus Cicada at Punakaiki

Read the downloadable article Chorus Cicada, Amphipsalta zelandica (Boisduval), males calling with only wing-clicks by Kathy B. R. Hill, The Weta (2012) 43(1): 15–20, for more information.

Update: here’s some Google trends data. More people search for cicada & cicadas in February in New Zealand.

November 21, 2015

Australian Cicada Names 🇦🇺

Filed under: Australia,David Emery — Tags: — Dan @ 1:01 am

It’s that time again: time for cicadas in Australia!

Australia has the best cicada names:

Cyclochila australasiae

Green Grocer

Green Grocer (Cyclochila australasiae)
Photo by Bron.

Green Grocer

rare green yellow Green Grocer
Photo by Kevin Lee. Yellow-Green Green Grocer with Mask.

Yellow Monday

Tom Katzoulopolopoulous (Cyclochila australasiae)
Photo by Tom Katzoulopolopoulous.


Blue Moon

Blue Moon (Cyclochila australasiae)
Photo by David Emery.

Masked Devil

Masked Devil cicada (Cyclochila australasiae)
Photo by David Emery.


Cherrynose or Whiskey Drinker (Macrotristria angularis)

Cherry Nose cicada (Macrotristria angularis)
Photo by David Emery.

Bagpipe Cicada (Lembeja paradoxa)

Lembeja paradoxa
Photo by David Emery.

Floury Baker (Abricta curvicosta)

Michelle Thompson's Floury Baker (Abricta curvicosta)
Photo by Michelle Thompson.

Golden Emperor (Anapsaltoda pulchra)

Anapsaltoda pulchra (Golden Emperor) from Herberton (Queensland) by David Emery.
Photo by David Emery.

Double Drummer (Thopha saccata)

Double Drummer (Thopha saccata)
Photo by Kevin Lee.

Orange Drummer (Thopha colorata)

Orange Drummer (Thopha colorata)
Photo by Jodi.

White Drummer (Arunta perulata)

White Drummer cicada (Arunta perulata)
Photo by David Emery.

Bladder Cicada (Cystosoma saundersii)

Cystosoma saundersii (bladder cicada)
Photo by David Emery.

Redeye cicada (Psaltoda moerens)

Redeye cicada (Psaltoda moerens)
Photo by David Emery.

Click images for larger versions.

More interesting names:

Use this amazing image by David Emery to identify some of the most well-known Australian cicada species:

Aussie cicadas 1 (3)

More resources:

September 25, 2015

The Great Cicada Blitz of Sydney Australia

Filed under: Australia,Nathan Emery — Dan @ 4:13 am

If you’re in the Sydney, Australia area and you see or hear a cicada this season, report it to the Great Cicada Blitz, an iNaturalist website set up by cicada researcher Nathan Emery. The purpose of this website is to map and identify the various cicada species in the Sydney area.

Cicada Blitz

July 10, 2015

Major Changes to the Tibicen genera

Sometimes you wake up and the whole world is different. See this cicada:

A female teneral Tibicen tibicen tibicen (chloromera) cicada
photo by me.

… when I went to sleep she was a Tibicen tibicen tibicen, but now I know she is a Neotibicen tibicen tibicen. 10 years ago, she was a Tibicen chloromera. 130 years ago, she was Cicada tibicen. Cicada names change as researchers discover their differences.

Two new papers have split the Tibicen (or Lyristes) genera into many genera: Tibicen (European Tibicen), Auritibicen (Tibicen of Asia/Japan), Neotibicen (mostly eastern North American Tibicen), and Hadoa (Tibicen of the western United States).

The first paper is Description of a new genus, Auritibicen gen. nov., of Cryptotympanini (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) with redescriptions of Auritibicen pekinensis (Haupt, 1924) comb. nov. and Auritibicen slocumi (Chen, 1943) comb. nov. from China and a key to the species of Auritibicen by Young June Lee, 2015, Zootaxa 3980 (2): 241–254. This paper establishes the new genera Auritibicen, and the members of the Tibicen/Lyristes genera fall into that genera. Here is a link. So, Tibicen flammatus aka Lyristes flammatus of Japan, for example, becomes Auritibicen flammatus.

Tibicen flammatus aka Lyristes flammatus
Auritibicen flammatus photo by Osamu Hikino.

The second paper is Molecular phylogenetics, diversification, and systematics of Tibicen Latreille 1825 and allied cicadas of the tribe Cryptotympanini, with three new genera and emphasis on species from the USA and Canada (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha: Cicadidae) by Kathy B. R. Hill, David C. Marshall, Maxwell S. Moulds & Chris Simon. 2015, Zootaxa 3985 (2): 219–251. This paper establishes the Neotibicen (Hill and Moulds), and Hadoa (Moulds) genera. This paper also sought to establish the Subsolanus genera for the Asian Tibicen/Lyristes species but the previously mentioned paper by Young June Lee has precedence because it was published first. Link to paper.

To recap, European Tibicen/Lyristes are Tibicen

Adult Tibicen/Lyristes plebejus
Tibicen plebejus photo by Iván Jesus Torresano García.

… Asian Tibicen/Lyristes are now Auritibicen. Mostly-eastern North American Tibicen are now Neotibicen, and Western North American Tibicen are now Hadoa. Note that, the catagorization is not due to location, but to genetic and physiological evaluation (read the papers).

Needless to say this website and others have a lot of name changing to do, but in the mean time, here’s where the North American species fall out:

Neotibicen
Tibicen auletes Neotibicen auletes
Tibicen auriferus Neotibicen auriferus
Tibicen canicularis Neotibicen canicularis
Tibicen cultriformis Neotibicen cultriformis
Tibicen davisi davisi Neotibicen davisi davisi
Tibicen davisi harnedi Neotibicen davisi harnedi
Tibicen dealbatus Neotibicen dealbatus
Tibicen dorsatus Neotibicen dorsatus
Tibicen figuratus Neotibicen figuratus
Tibicen latifasciatus Neotibicen latifasciatus
Tibicen linnei Neotibicen linnei
Tibicen lyricen engelhardti Neotibicen lyricen engelhardti
Tibicen lyricen lyricen Neotibicen lyricen lyricen
Tibicen lyricen virescens Neotibicen lyricen virescens
Tibicen pronotalis pronotalis Neotibicen pronotalis pronotalis
Tibicen pronotalis walkeri Neotibicen pronotalis walkeri
Tibicen pruinosus fulvus Neotibicen pruinosus fulvus
Tibicen pruinosus pruinosus Neotibicen pruinosus pruinosus
Tibicen resh Neotibicen resh
Tibicen resonans Neotibicen resonans
Tibicen robinsonianus Neotibicen robinsonianus
Tibicen similaris Neotibicen similaris
Tibicen superbus Neotibicen superbus
Tibicen tibicen australis Neotibicen tibicen australis
Tibicen tibicen tibicen Neotibicen tibicen tibicen
Tibicen tremulus Neotibicen tremulus
Tibicen winnemanna Neotibicen winnemanna
Hadoa
Tibicen bifidus Hadoa bifida
Tibicen chiricahua Hadoa chiricahua
Tibicen duryi Hadoa duryi
Tibicen inauditus Hadoa inaudita
Tibicen longioperculus Hadoa longiopercula
Tibicen neomexicensis Hadoa neomexicensis
Tibicen parallelus Hadoa parallela
Tibicen simplex Hadoa simplex
Tibicen texanus Hadoa texana
Tibicen townsendii Hadoa townsendii

You can see some of those species here by their old names. :)

April 26, 2015

One new genus, and 15 new species of cicada in Argentina

Filed under: Allen F. Sanborn,Argentina,Maxine E. Heath,New Species — Dan @ 6:21 am

Allen F. Sanborn & Maxine S. Heath published a new paper about cicadas titled The cicadas of Argentina with new records, a new genus and fifteen new species (Hemiptera: Cicadoidea: Cicadidae) in Zootaxa Vol 3883, No 1, in November of 2014. Website for the document.

The abstract of the paper reveals some exciting discoveries:

  1. 108 species belonging to 37 genera, eight tribes, and three subfamilies of cicadas are represented in the Argentine cicada fauna.
  2. The new genus is Torresia Sanborn & Heath gen. n.
  3. New species:
    1. Adusella signata Haupt, 1918 rev. stat.
    2. Alarcta micromacula Sanborn & Heath sp. n.
    3. Chonosia longiopercula Sanborn & Heath sp. n.
    4. Chonosia septentrionala Sanborn & Heath sp. n.
    5. Dorisiana noriegai Sanborn & Heath sp. n.
    6. Fidicinoides ferruginosa Sanborn & Heath sp. n.
    7. Guyalna platyrhina Sanborn & Heath sp. n.
    8. Herrera humilastrata Sanborn & Heath sp. n.
    9. Herrera umbraphila Sanborn & Heath sp. n.
    10. Parnisa lineaviridia Sanborn & Heath sp. n.
    11. Parnisa viridis Sanborn & Heath sp. n.
    12. Prasinosoma medialinea Sanborn & Heath sp. n.
    13. Proarna alalonga Sanborn & Heath sp. n.
    14. Proarna parva Sanborn & Heath sp. n.
    15. Torresia lariojaensis Sanborn & Heath sp. n.
    16. Torresia sanjuanensis Sanborn & Heath sp. n.
  4. The document is 94 pages long.

April 22, 2015

Four new cicada species in Australia

Filed under: David Emery,L. W. Popple,Nathan Emery,New Species,Yoyetta — Dan @ 4:38 am

According to Nathan Emery on Twitter, four new species of cicadas belonging to the genus Yoyetta have been described:

  • Y. cumberlandi sp. nov.
  • Y. fluviatilis sp. nov.
  • Y. nigrimontana sp. nov.
  • Y. repetens sp. nov.

See this paper for more information:

Emery, N.J., Emery, D.L., & Popple, L.W. (2015) A redescription of Yoyetta landsboroughi (Distant) and Y. tristrigata (Goding and Froggatt) (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) and description of four new related species. Zootaxa 3948 (3): 301–341.

April 14, 2015

Cicada People

Filed under: Researchers — Dan @ 9:10 pm

Cicada People

A little fun before the periodical cicada season starts. This is a “wordcloud” of the last names of people who have identified species of cicadas. The bigger the name, the more cicada IDs are attributed to them.

The are a couple of errors (misspelled Stal, split up Van Duzee). If you’re interested in making your own wordcloud, you can use the program R with the R package wordcloud.

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