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September 17, 2016

What is Megatibicen?!

Update (9/20): I guessed the species correctly: all the Large Flute Players.

Update (9/24): I neglected to note that there’s another paper out there by Young June Lee called Description of three new genera, Paratibicen, Megatibicen, and Ameritibicen, of Cryptotympanini (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) and a key to their species. Link to it here. This manuscript goes beyond one new genera, and instead introduces three: Paratibicen, Megatibicen, and Ameritibicen. Lee’s paper differs from Sanborn & Heath in that the large Neotibicen are spit into Megatibicen and Ameritibicen in Young’s document, but they’re all Megatibicen in Sanborn & Heath’s paper.


Last night I had a rough night’s sleep. I tossed and turned all night long. I remember looking at the clock and seeing 4am, and thinking “tomorrow is ruined”. Sometime during the night I dreamt of finding thousands of molted Neotibicen exuvia clinging to shrubbery — a rare if not impossible sight in real life.

When I woke I checked my email and found a communication from David Marshall. David is well known and respected in the cicada world for many things including describing the 7th species of Magicicada with John Cooley (link to document), as well as being part of the team who defined the Neotibicen and Hadoa genera (link to paper)1.

David wrote to let me know that Allen F. Sanborn and Maxine S. Heath had published a new paper titled: Megatibicen n. gen., a new North American cicada genus (Hemiptera: Cicadidae: Cicadinae: Cryptotympanini), 2016, Zootaxa Vol 4168, No 3.(link).

So, what is MEGATIBICEN? Assumptions after the abstract.

Here is the abstract:

The genus Tibicen has had a confusing history (see summary in Boulard and Puissant 2014; Marshall and Hill 2014; Sanborn 2014). Boulard and his colleague (Boulard 1984; 1988; 1997; 2001; 2003; Boulard and Puissant 2013; 2014; 2015) have argued for the suppression of Tibicen and the taxa derivatived from it in favor of Lyristes Horváth. Boulard’s argument for suppression was first described in Melville and Sims (1984) who presented the case for suppression to the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature with further comments made by Hamilton (1985), Boulard (1985), and Lauterer (1985). A lack of action resulted in additional comments being published in 2014 again supporting the retention (Sanborn 2014; Marshall and Hill 2014) or the suppression (Boulard and Puissant 2014) of Tibicen.

My guess, without reading the document, is that Megatibicen includes the larger North America Neotibicen species, including the “auletes group” (N. auletes, N. resh, N. figuratus, N. resonans), the “pronotalis group” (N. pronotalis, N. dealbatus, N. cultriformis) and the “dorsatus group” (N. dorsatus, N. tremulus), or a mix of these. N. auletes is the largest cicada in North America. “Mega” is the Greek word for “very large” or “great”. Word is that Kathy Hill and David Marshall also planned on describing a Megatibicen genus at one point, as well.

Whenever cicada names change it causes feelings of bemusement, discontentment and discomfort amongst some cicada researches and fans. I know I don’t like it because I have to update the names of cicadas in 100’s of places on this website ;). Some folks simply disagree with the folks writing the paper. Some people prefer former names because they sound nicer (e.g. N. chloromerus vs N. tibicen tibicen). Some people simply do not like change.

Related: Here’s my article on when Neotibicen & Hadoa were established from Tibicen.

1 Hill, et al. 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) 2015, Zootaxa 3985 (2): 219–251.

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.

March 25, 2014

Catalogue of the Cicadoidea by Allen F Sanborn

Filed under: Allen F. Sanborn,Books — Dan @ 7:17 pm

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.

Catalogue of the Cicadoidea by Allen F Sanborn

Here’s a description from the publisher:

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 3,390 varieties of cicadas (yeah, I manually counted the species).

April 9, 2013

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

Download the PDF here:

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).

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

December 9, 2012

Two new cicada publications worth reading

Filed under: Allen F. Sanborn,Canada,United States — Dan @ 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.


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).


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.

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