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November 23, 2015

Identifying Neotibicen

Filed under: Identify,Neotibicen — Dan @ 8:12 pm

Identifying cicadas can be quite challenging, especially cicadas belonging to the Neotibicen genus. Different Neotibicen species often look and sound alike, and it takes a lot of practice before one gets good at identifying them. I only know 5 or 6 people in the world that I would trust to tell a Neotibicen winnemanna from a Neotibicen pruinosus, for example, because their songs and visual appearance are so similar.

In this article, I will first point out various sources where to you learn about the different Neotibicen species. Then I will discuss basic terminogy used when describing cicadas. Last, I will discuss some challenges with identifying them. Subsequent articles will discuss the specific species and subspecies.


The best sources for identifying Neotibicen, IMHO, are:

  • Insect Singers for audio recordings of cicada songs.
  • The work of Bill Reynolds and others on, for example, the Info page for N. pruinosus. BugGuide is particularly useful for getting a cicada identified — you upload a photo, and they identify it. You can also try to figure it out yourself by browsing their catalog of images.
  • The recent paper 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. (link to the paper). This paper is useful for understanding the morphology of Neotibicen as well as how the various species are genetically related.
  • Biogeography of the Cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) of North America, North of Mexico by Allen F. Sanborn and Polly K. Phillips. (Download PDF). This document is particularly useful for locations.
  • The Cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadoidea: Cicadidae) of N. America North of Mexico by Allen F. Sanborn and Maxine S. Heath. (the book is available here)

You can also use this website as a resource. The Cicada Species of North America and USA & Canada Cicada Search are useful.


  • Eyes: Neotibicen have 5 eyes, but for the purposes of identification, the two big, composite eyes are most important.
  • Mask: a mask, in terms of cicadas, is a dark band between their eyes. Not all cicadas have this, but when they do, it can be useful for identification. Mask
  • Pronotum: the dorsal surface of the first segment of the thorax. The word means “before back” in Greek.
  • Pronotal Collar or simply Collar: a collar-like band that separates the head and thorax.
  • Mesonotum: a shield-shaped structure that covers the dorsal side of the second segment of the thorax. The name means “middle shield” in Greek. This is where the arches or “M” appears on the cicada.
  • Cruciform Elevation: a cross-shaped structure found on the dorsal side at the end of the thorax
  • Pruinose: a white, waxy substance found on the bodies of many cicadas.
  • Costal Margin & Wing Shape in general: The costal margin is the outer edge of the cicada’s forewing. The shape of the wing can help you diagnose the species. Wing Bend
  • Abdomen: The third, last and final portion of the cicada’s body (1st: head, 2nd: thorax, 3rd: abdomen).
  • Dorsal: The top side of the cicada.
  • Ventral: The bottom side of the cicada — where the legs are.
  • Teneral: Teneral means soft, and in the case of cicadas, it refers to the adult cicada when it has recently molted and is still soft/unsclerotized.
  • Song: Neotibicen males sing using their tybmals, which are drum-like organs located in their abdomen.

Cicada Anatomy

Those are the resources and terminology — now on to the challenges.

Rules are not absolute

Sometimes a diagnostic characteristic is fool-proof for the majority of identifications, but in some cases it fails.

Example: N. lyricen typically have black collars, but not 100% of the time. You might find a lyricen with a green collar, and think it is a N. linnei.


Neotibicen like canicularis, linnei, pruinosus, robinsonianus & winnemanna, are closely related, and cicada researchers have found evidence that they hybridize, based on hybrid songs or mixed characteristics.

See Bill Reynolds’ information on hybrids on BugGuide.

Live vs. Dead

Dead specimens lose color over time. Eyes lose color. Vibrant greens become dull. Dull greens become yellow or brown. Keep that in mind.

Eye Colors Fade

Teneral vs Adult

When cicadas molt, and their bodies as still soft, they are often lighter in color and the markings on their skin are not clearly defined.

2 hours of change

Some previous articles about identifying teneral Neotibicen:


Photograph the same cicada in direct sunlight, indoors with a flash, or without a flash under florescent lighting, and it might appear different each time.

The eyes, in particular, look different under different lighting conditions.

Name changes

The names of all plants and animals change over time, for several reasons. An old book or paper about Neotibicen might feature names that have completely changed. Neotibicen tibicen tibicen, for example, was called Tibicen chloromera not long ago.

See major changes to the Tibicen genera for information about the recent change from Tibicen to Neotibicen. I haven’t had to the time to update all the Tibicens to Neotibicens on this website — some day I will.

And in case you wanted to know:

How to tell if a Neotibicen is a male or female.


The next article will discuss the different Neotibicen species.

October 31, 2015

The 2015 Brood XXIII Emergence Revisited

Filed under: Brood XXIII,Magicicada — Dan @ 5:40 pm

Both Brood XXIII and Brood IV Magicicada periodical cicadas emerged in 2015. It was my plan to go on an epic road trip, see both broods, and report and document everything. I was able to cover a lot of ground, but thanks to cool or atrocious weather, I completely missed Brood IV, and much of Brood XXIII.

The most difficult thing about planning an epic cicada vacation is timing it right. It really depends on the luck of the draw. Cicada behavior depends on the weather, and since we cannot predict the weather months, weeks, or sometimes days in advance, it is difficult to guess exactly which weeks to plan a vacation.

These cicadas like nice weather: dry, sunny, preferably in the high 70s or 80s. If it is too cold, they won’t emerge. If it is too cool, they won’t sing, making it hard to find them when traveling along the highway, because we need to hear them to find them. If the weather is absolutely abysmal, like it was in Texas this year, I’m not even going to try to look for them; I like cicadas a lot, but they aren’t worth having my car washed into a roadside ravine.

That said, I did get to hear and see a lot of Magicicadas, so I’m not complaining.

I traveled through the following states:

Mississippi: ✔️Plenty of cicadas. I heard three 13-year Magicicada species in Jackson, Mississippi, in the woods behind the Mississippi Museum of Natural History.
Louisiana: ❌ I heard no cicadas. Bad/cool weather.
Texas: ❌ I saw the storm clouds, and headed back to Arkansas.
Arkansas: ❌ I heard no cicadas. More bad/cool weather.
Tennesse: ✔️ Plenty of cicadas North of Memphis.
Kentucky: ✔️Plenty of cicadas in the Land Between the Lakes area.
Illinois: ✔️An amazing amount of cicadas in the Giant City State Park area, including all four 13-year Magicicada species.
Indiana: ✔️ A couple exuvia/skins at a welcome center.

Note that the ❌ does not mean that cicadas did not appear in those states this year. It just means I did not see them because of weather conditions & timing.

This is a map of my cicada sightings:
2015 Roadtrip

Visit my 2015 Brood XXIII gallery, to see more photos like this:

Male Female and Male Magicicada tredecim

Some specimens:

Magicicada specimens

Some videos:

Cicadas in Giant City Park in Illinois:

Cicadas in the Land Between the Lakes Area in Kentucky:

October 11, 2015

Brood V 17-Year Cicadas Due in Spring of 2016

Filed under: Brood V,Magicicada,Periodical — Dan @ 12:44 pm

Brood V 2016Brood V (5) 17-year cicadas will emerge in the spring of 2016 in Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.

The cicada species that will emerge are Magicicada cassinii (Fisher, 1852), Magicicada septendecim (Linnaeus, 1758), and Magicicada septendecula Alexander and Moore, 1962. These periodical cicadas have a 17-year life cycle. The last time they emerged was 1999.

Counties where they are likely to emerge:

This data comes from the Cicada Central Magicicada Database.

Stylized Brood V Map

Maryland: Garrett

Ohio: Ashland, Ashtabula, Athens, Belmont, Carroll, Clermont, Columbiana, Coshocton, Crawford, Cuyahoga, Fairfield, Franklin, Gallia, Guernsey, Hamilton, Harrison, Hocking, Jackson, Jefferson, Knox, Lake, Lawrence, Licking, Lorain, Mahoning, Medina, Meigs, Montgomery, Muskingum, Noble, Ottawa, Perry, Pickaway, Pike, Portage, Richland, Ross, Scioto, Seneca, Stark, Summit, Trumbull, Tuscarawas, Vinton, Washington, Wayne

Pennsylvania: Fayette, Greene, Washington, Westmoreland

Virginia: Allegheny, Augusta, Bath, Highland, Richmond, Rockingham, Shenandoah

West Virginia: Barbour, Boone, Braxton, Brooke, Cabell, Calhoun, Clay, Doddridge, Fayette, Gilmer, Greenbrier, Hampshire, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Kanawha, Lewis, Marion, Marshall, Mason, Mongolia, Monongalia, Nicholas, Nichols, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Preston, Putnam, Raleigh, Randolph, Ritchie, Roane, Taylor, Tyler, Upshur, Webster, Wetzel, Wood

New York: Suffolk Long Island.

Learn more about Brood V:


Look/Listen for Brood IX Cicada Stragglers in 2016

Filed under: Brood IX,Magicicada,Periodical Stragglers — Dan @ 11:11 am

There is a high probability that Brood IX (17 Year Magicicada) stragglers will emerge in 2016. Look for them in southern West Virginia, western Virginia and north-west North Carolina:

Brood IX

M. septendecim, M. cassini, and M. septendecula are all part of this brood.

Learn more about periodical cicada stragglers.

Visit’s Brood IX page for detailed information.

September 3, 2015

Big and Small: Neotibicen exuvia

Filed under: Neocicada — Dan @ 5:34 am

A photo of a Neotibicen auletes compared to a smaller Neotibicen exuvia (I believe it is an N. canicularis based on the time of year and location (mid-New Jersey)).

August 16, 2015

Color variations in Neotibicen tibicen tibicen

Filed under: Neotibicen,Tibicen — Dan @ 8:25 am

Color variations in chloromera
The cicada on the Left was found in Middletown NJ, and the cicada on the Right in Metuchen, NJ. Middletown is closer to the ocean than Metuchen is, but both share a similar elevation and vegetation.

It is interesting to note the color variation found in Neotibicen tibicen tibicen aka chloromera aka Swamp Cicada aka Hunch-Back cicada.

In some areas the dorsal side of N. tibicen tibicen can be almost all black, while in other locations their pronotums & mesonotums feature vibrant greens & rusty browns — you can even make out the “M” on the mesonotum.

There may have been cross breeding between the Southern Swamp Cicada (Neotibicen tibicen australis), at some point in time, providing some Neotibicen tibicen tibicen with more colorful appearance. Read Intergrade zones with australis on BudGuide for more information on that possibility.

August 8, 2015

Neotibicen lyricen engelhardti aka Dark Lyric Cicada

Filed under: Neocicada,Tibicen — Dan @ 8:38 am

This female Neotibicen lyricen engelhardti aka Dark Lyric Cicada was found during my lunch (half) hour in Middletown, NJ (95ft elevation). Yes it is covered with ants.

Neotibicen lyricen engelhardti cicada female

More information about N. lyricen engelhardti.

August 3, 2015

Tibicen bermudiana, an extinct cicada

Filed under: Extinct,Neotibicen,Tibicen — Tags: — Dan @ 5:33 am

The Tibicen bermudiana Verrill (T. bermudianus if you want the genus and species names to agree, and maybe now Neotibicen bermudianus) is a cicada that was endemic to Bermuda and is now extinct. Its closest relative is the Tibicen lyricen, which is found in the United States (and not extinct).

Here is a photo of a T. bermudiana from the collection found at the Staten Island Museum:

Tibicen bermudiana of Bermuda

More photos.

From the Bermuda’s Fauna website:

Sadly, when most of the Bermuda cedar trees were killed of by a blight in the 1950s, the cicadas that made the nights so uniquely magical and romantic in sound also largely disappeared.

Updated with a photo of the coin commemorating this cicada:


July 29, 2015

Neotibicen auletes

Filed under: Neotibicen — Dan @ 8:32 pm

Tonight I went to Manchester, New Jersey to look and listen for Neotibicen auletes aka the Northern Dusk-Singing cicada. As the name suggests, these cicadas sing at dusk (basically right at sunset). They are also the largest cicadas in North America.

I heard many auletes, found some nymphal skins, and one dead adult. Unfortunately I found no live specimens to film or video. Next time.


July 13, 2015

Neocicada hieroglyphica hieroglyphica in Riverhead, NY

Filed under: Elias Bonaros,Neocicada — Dan @ 6:29 pm

Elias Bonaros shared these photos of Neocicada hieroglyphica that he observed emerging in Riverhead, Long Island, New York, which is the north-most point of their range, as documented by William T. Davis.

They were taken today, July 13th, 2015.

Here is the Neocicada hieroglyphica hieroglyphica exiting its nymphal skin.

Neocicada hieroglyphica hieroglyphica (Say, 1830) by Elias Bonaros taken in Riverhead NY

Annette DeGiovine wrote an extensive blog post with many images and video of emerging Neocicada hieroglyphica. Check it out.

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