Update: After emailing with Dave Marshall and John Cooley today (July, 17th), I learned that the ‘decim cicadas in this brood are Magicicada tredecim (not neotredecim), based on their lower-pitched sound and very-orange abdomens! This means that this brood is not related to Brood XIV or X at all, that these cicadas are truly 13-year cicadas, they might be related to Brood XXII and perhaps were once part of the same larger brood thousands of years ago.
Back in 2013 Roy Troutman and his wife Michelle visited me in New Jersey to experience the Brood II cicada emergence. At that time, Roy extended an invitation to visit Ohio in 2014 to experience & map a mysterious brood that emerges every thirteen years near his family campsite. A year later, I took him up on his offer.
A very orange M. tredecim found by Roy in Ohio.
On June 1st I made the long drive from the Jersey Shore to south-west Ohio. The trip went smoothly, thanks to a well maintained car, a flash drive filled with 37 Gig of music, Red Bull, Monster Energy Drinks, some M&M candies and a tank and a half of gas. Sunday night I met Roy at his family home. After a quick dinner, we immediately went looking for cicadas in Point Pleasant, Ohio. Most of the cicadas had emerged from the ground a week or two ago, but we were able to find a few newly emerged specimens:
The following morning we visited the Crooked Run-Robert J. Paul Memorial Sanctuary in Chilo, Ohio, which is primarily a hardwood forrest along the Ohio River. The nature sanctuary was loaded with Magicicada tredecassini, healthy pockets of M. tredecula and a few M. tredecim. The cicadas were chorusing, feisty and already ovipositing (laying eggs).
So, why spend a week researching cicadas? Why ride in a car for dozens of hours tracking the locations of cicadas? Well, this mysterious Ohio & Kentucky brood is unique, and this would be the first time it was thoroughly mapped.
Why is this Ohio Kentucky brood unique?
These cicadas have a 13-year life cycle. No other brood of periodical cicadas in Ohio has a 13-year life cycle. Note that two 13-year broods (XIX & XXIII) exist in Kentucky, but they are geographically isolated from the OH/KY brood.
The OH/KY brood is also geographically isolated from Brood XXII, a brood of 13-year cicadas that emerged in Louisiana and Mississippi this year (2014). The OH/KY brood might be grouped with Brood XXII just by virtue of the fact that they emerge in the same cycle of years, but the two broods seem to be too far apart, geographically and probably genetically, to be related.
They occupy a relatively small area of south-western Ohio, and north-central Kentucky.
They are in relatively the same area as two 17-year broods, Brood XIV and Brood X. Brood XIV more so than Brood X.
The mystery is: why does this small, isolated brood of 13-year cicadas exist?
Roy Troutman and John Cooley have collected specimens, and the insects genetics will be studied to try to find an answer. Along with the results of genetic testing, the results of mapping will be considered, along with the past work of researchers like Lloyd and White, and local legend Gene Kritsky.
Mapping cicadas requires that you drive hundreds to thousands of miles, listening for cicadas, and recording the species and location. The hard parts are 1) picking out the individual species (particularly hearing individual deculas in the midst of loud chorus of cassini), and 2) driving slow enough to hear the individual species, without enraging local drivers. Discerning the songs of individual species is easy enough when you’re moving slowly or standing still, but at 55mph, you can hear the roar of a cassini chorus, but a more subtle ‘decim chorus, set deeper in the woods, will go unheard.
Thanks to John Cooley’s Map O Matic — a combination of a tiny laptop, Ubuntu Linux, a numeric keypad, a GPS puck, and some clever programming — marking the locations of Magicicada species is now a simple task. Drive around, and when you hear a heavy ‘decim chorus, you hit the 9 key, and the location is recorded. Hear a ‘cassini individual; hit a 4, and the location is recorded. Genius. I suppose the next best thing would be an app version.
The Cicada Map O Matic
Each day Roy planned the route and we started mapping. Roy driving; me pressing buttons. We traveled highways, and single-laned roads; through heavily populated suburbia with convenience stores selling Pork cracklings and fireworks, as well as, farm and forrest roads. Straight and fast. Winding and bumpy. Each day was amazing road trip for the sake of cicada research.
Mapping can be frustrating. Time limitations are frustrating. The cicadas only sing for a few weeks, so there is only so much time to hear and map them.
Google Maps, often used to visualize cicada mapping data, is frustrating as well. Google maps omits unincorporated towns and villages from their maps. Want to find Utopia, Ohio on Google Maps? According to Google Maps, it doesn’t exist.
Also, if you use an old map, beware; a road that existed 10 years ago, might now be a rocky field. One time we headed down a dusty road that looked like it connected to a major county road. Instead, Roy ended up breaking some part of his car on some bowling ball sized rocks, which I had to get out and move so we could backtrack to civilization. One positive: while rolling boulders, I heard an individual Magicicada tredecim, which are rare in this brood. Hit the 7 on the cicada Map O Matic.
The data from all this cicada mapping will be used by cicada researchers like Gene Kritsky and John Cooley to decode the mystery of this brood. If you’re curious, you can see the map here, or take a look at this short video, which crudely demonstrates the geographic proximity of Brood XIV, the OH/KY Brood and Brood X:
My trip to Ohio and Kentucky, was fantastic. I got to spend dozens of hours helping to map an important brood, hang out with a good friend, and even meet cicada research legend Gene Kritsky for breakfast. For a cicada fanatic, it doesn’t get much better.
A Magicicada tredecassini found in Kincaid Park, Kentucky.
I had such a good time, I headed home via Kentucky (which is not the way to go, if you’re going back to New Jersey). I stopped by Kincaid Park so I could hear all three species in one location. I even drove down the shoe road, and visited the Jim Beam distillery (which has little to do with cicadas, but why not).
After spending a week mapping cicadas, my respect for cicada researchers like Gene, John, Roy, Chris Simon, David Marshall and Jin Yoshimura has grown measurably. Mapping is not easy. It takes concentration, patience, a lot of expensive gasoline, and energy drinks. It’s worth it though. Hopefully I’ll get to do it again next year as well.
Magicicadas with a 13-Year life-cycle are emerging in Ohio & Kentucky, along the Ohio river, in 2014. This particular group of periodical cicadas last emerged in 2001 and 1988.
July 17th: I got confirmation from Dave Marshall and John Cooley that the ‘decim in the brood are Magicicada tredecim!
June 5th: Roy Troutman and I completed 3 days of cicada mapping in Ohio and Kentucky. This map includes our findings, Gene Kritsky’s findings and sightings submitted to Gene from local residents.
June 4th: Audio of a Magicicada tredecula call from the Ohio/Kentucky brood.
June 3rd: I spent the last last two days looking for cicadas in Ohio and Kentucky with Roy Troutman. Mostly ‘cassini, some ‘decula, and a very small amount of ‘decims. We found ‘cassini chorusing in Mason, KY, in the west, and so far as south as Neurls Run, KY. JoAnn White & Monte Lloyd’s paper 17-Year cicadas emerging after 18 years: A new brood?1 mentioned emergences in the Mason location, going back to 1975 (three 13 year generations ago).
May 31th: Cicadas are reported to be “loud and plentiful” in the Germantown KY area, as well as, Harrison county KY.
May 30th: Roy Troutman confirmed that ‘decula, ‘cassini and ‘decim type Magicicada have emerged in Ohio.
May 23th: Gene Kritsky wrote to let us know that “the emergence is now in full swing” in Ohio and Kentucky. Roy also shared a photo of an adult 13 year cicada.
May 14th: Roy Troutman has reported that the emergence began last night in Chilo, OH according to a Clermont County Parks director. Cool weather this week (in the thirties!) will likely prevent more cicadas from emerging until next week (highs in 80s).
I know what you’re thinking: are these cicadas part of Brood XXII? Time and research will tell. Brood XXII emerges in Louisiana and Mississippi, which are geographically isolated from Ohio & Kentucky, so the two groups of cicadas are likely to be genetically distinct (belonging to different mitochondrial haplotype groups at least). That said, Brood II, which emerges mostly along the east coast of the U.S., also emerges in Oklahoma, which is geographically isolated from the rest of that brood. So, the Ohio/Kentucky cicadas could logically be part of brood XXII.
Back in 2001 Roy Troutman, Les Daniels and Gene Kritsky reported this group of cicadas to Cicada Mania. Les reported both cassini and decim.
My guess is these cicadas are somehow descended from Brood X or Brood XIV 17-year cicadas, and that if they are 13-year cicadas.
I wrote Roy for a list of towns where these cicadas emerged in 2001, and he said:
Cold Springs, KY
New Richmond, OH
Point Pleasant, OH
Woodland Mound Park, Cinncinati, OH
Chremistica ribhoi Hajong and Yaakop 2013 is a cicada that lives in the Ri-Boi district of India. C. ribhoi is known as the World Cup cicada because it emerges every four years in synch with the World Cup association football (soccer) tournament.
C. ribhoi is known locally as Niangtasar. It only lives in a very small area: Saiden village (N 25’51’37.1’’; E 091’51’16.3”) and Lailad (N 25’55’09.7” E 091’46’25.0”) situated on the northern part of the state of Meghalaya. The cicada can be identified by the presence of two white spots on either side of the anterior abdominal segment.
Researcher Sudhanya Hajong is gearing up to study these cicadas, since this is the year they will emerge. Ri-Boi area locals use these cicadas as a food source and fish bait. These cicadas are threatened by deforestation (cutting down forests for agricultural purposes). Sudhanya plans to educate locals about conserving them and protecting their habitat.
Most of the facts in the post come from the following document: Hajong, S.R. 2013. Mass emergence of a cicada (homoptera: cicadidae) and its capture methods and consumption by villagers in ri-bhoi district of Meghalaya. Department of Zoology, North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong – 793 022, Meghalaya, India.
Thanks to Chris Simon of The Simon Lab at UCONN for providing the information that made this post possible.
Note: the image in this article is not an accurate depiction of C. ribhoi. :)
The Catalogue of the Cicadoidea (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha) by Allen F Sanborn weighs about six pounds. It’s also one of my favorite cicada books, and it usually can be found on my desk. I use it mostly to verify the names of cicadas.
This is the third in a series of catalogs and bibliographies of the Cicadoidea covering 1981-2010. The work summarizes the cicada literature, providing a means for easy access to information previously published on a particular species or to allow researchers the ability to locate similar work that has been published on other species. A total of 2,591 references are included in the bibliography. The book is a source of biological and systematic information that could be used by zoologists, entomologists, individuals interested in crop protection, and students studying entomology as well as anyone interested in cicadas or who require specific information on the insects. Each genus/species is identified with the reference, the page number, any figures (if applicable), the topics covered by the reference, any synonymies, and any biogeographic information mentioned for the species in the individual reference. An added benefit to the catalog is that it is the first complete species list for the Cicadoidea, including all synonymies and new combinations through 2012.
The publisher also has the cheapest price that I’ve found.
Over 3,500 varieties of cicadas (yeah, I manually counted the species).
It looks like a new sub-tribe, genus and species of cicada has been identified by Michel Boulard and Stéphane Puissant. Cicadmalleus micheli. The cicada has a head that looks like the head of a hammerhead shark! Cicadmalleus means “cicada hammer”, and micheli refers to Bruno Michel who found the cicada (thanks David Emery).
I heard the cicada was discovered in Thailand, which makes sense because that is where Michael Boulard does most of his research.
Cicadas of Thailand Volume 2: Taxonomy and Sonic Ethology by Michel Boulard is available now via Siri Scientific Press.
Cicadas of Thailand Volume 1 was a great resource for the cicadas of Thailand and South-East Asia in general (many Asian species are not endemic, so you’ll find them in many countries). I imagine that Volume 2 will be just as amazing.
A comprehensive 436 page volume from the leading world expert representing 13 years of work on taxonomy (including several newly described species) and sonic ethology, with supporting audio tracks
I ordered a copy already.
Here’s his first book Cicadas of Thailand: General and Particular Characteristics. Volume 1:
We at the Simon Lab are anxious to get the word out that we are very interested in finding upcoming Brood II locations with lots of flagging (broken branches and wilted stems that should turn brown in late June or July or sooner down south).
When cicadas lay eggs they cause some damage to tree branches called flagging. It is easy to spot the brown patches of leaves. The Simon Lab want your sightings of flagging come the end of June and July.
A form to submit your sightings will be available soon.
Also we need to continue to crowd source locations of spring stragglers from any brood in any year.
A straggler is a periodical cicada that emerges years in advance of the rest of its brood. Typically they emerge four years in advance. An example of this is the cicadas that emerged in Ohio this year. Please let us know if you see a periodical cicada outside the Brood II area.
Two Wednesdays ago, May 29th, my friends Roy and Michelle Troutman arrived in New Jersey. Roy has been a cicada enthusiast since he was a child growing up in Ohio. Roy has contributed many photos and videos to cicadamania.com over the years. We met in Chicago for Brood XIII in 2007, and I visited his home in Ohio for Brood XIV in 2008. This year it was my turn to return the favor for Brood II, and Roy and Michelle drove out to New Jersey.
Wednesday night we drove up to Metuchen, New Jersey to check out the emergence there. We met up with Elias Bonaros, at my Mother’s home. This location was fantastic for cicadas back in 1996, so it was worth trying again in 2013. My Mother’s yard was loaded with hundreds of cicada nymphs, teneral cicadas and adults.
Thursday, May 30th, was a beach day for Michelle, and a cicada day for Roy and I. Roy and I drove to Middlesex county to meet up with Elias. Roy and I stopped at Roosevelt Park along the way. The groves of trees near the Plays in the Park building were filled with chorusing M. septendecim. The base of one tree was absolutely covered with discarded cicada exuvia (shells).
He headed to the Thomas Edison Monument in Edison NJ. There we met Elias. At the monument, sounds of construction competed with cicada choruses, but it was easy to hear both M. septendecim and M. cassini. The burdock filled field across from the monument, was filled with teneral Magiciada.
We hit Merrill Park in Colonia next. The park had many examples of both M. cassini and M. septendecim. The highlights were the many M. septendecim with caramel colored eyes, a small pine with close to 100 teneral adults clinging to its base, and loud, synchronized M. cassini choruses.
Next we headed to a very loud M. cassini chorusing center on Guernsey Lane in Colonia. There Elias and Roy experimented with making males call and change orientation by snapping their fingers (imitating a females wing snaps). This location is where the how loud (in decibels) do periodical cicadas get video came from.
We stopped by Revere Blvd in Edison, which was a hot spot 17 years ago, not much luck in 2013, but the best find was a pseudo scorpion that has hitched a ride on a cicada.
Friday, May 31st, Roy, Michelle and I drove out to Staten Island, to the Staten Island Museum. Me met Ed Johnson, and enjoyed their fantastic cicada exhibit, including the cicada timeline which features me. The Staten Island Museum has the largest collection of cicada specimens in the U.S.A., including many of the extinct Tibicen bermudiana.
Just one corner of the Staten Island Museum 17 year cicada exhibit.
We took the ferry to Manhattan for a visit to the American Museum of Natural History to see an exhibit that was using some of Roy’s cicada video. Coincidentally we exited the C line Subway that had a mosaic of a cicada.
Elias and Roy examining a periodical cicada display at the AMNH.
Roy and Elias under the subway cicada mosaic.
Then it was back to the Staten Island Museum for an event called The Joy of Six Legged Sex which was about insect mating behavior, specifically cicadas. John Cooley of Magicicada.org and Ed Johnson of the Staten Island Museum spoke. David Rothenberg was also in attendance.
Last Sunday (June 1st) I met Chris Simon and Elias Bonaros in Staten Island. Chris was in Staten Island, NY to map cicada locations, and collect some specimens. Elias and I helped her find some M. septendecim and M. cassini.
Elias (left), Chris (middle), Dan (right).
Chris Simon leads the Simon Lab at the University of Connecticut. From her biography: “Chris Simon is a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut and Adjunct Professor at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.” “Recent projects in her laboratory focus on the systematics, biogeography, evolution of cicadas worldwide, the application of information on molecular evolutionary processes to the improvement of tree-building, speciation and its relationship to past climates and landforms, evolution of periodical life cycles, the role of song in the evolution of insect species, and molecular evolution of the secondary structure of ribosomal RNA.”