Cicada Mania

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June 8, 2013

Five days of Cicada Mania

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).

A mass of exuvia and corpses by Roy Troutman

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.

Adult Magicicada on a pine tree by Roy Troutman

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.

Elias used his sharp ears to locate some M. septendecula in Iselin at the corner of Wood and Willow.

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.

Staten Island Museum 17 Year Cicada Exhibit
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.

Roy Troutman and Elias Bonaros at the Periodical Cicada display at the American Museum of Natural History by Michelle Troutman
Elias and Roy examining a periodical cicada display at the AMNH.

Roy Troutman and Elias Bonaros near cicada mosiac in subway
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.

The Joy of Six Legged Sex event at the Staten Island Museum
A sign for the event at the Staten Island Museum.

John Cooley and Ed Johnson speaking at the Staten Island Museum Six Legged Sex event by Roy Troutman
John Cooley (left) and Ed Johnson (right).

Saturday, June 1st, Roy and Michelle left for Ohio. Later that day I met up with John Cooley, Jin Yoshimura, David Rothenberg, the New York Times, and friends. Read about that adventure: David Rothenberg, John Cooley and the New York Times.

Sunday, June 2nd, back to Staten Island to meet Chris Simon and Elias. More about that adventure in these posts:

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!