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June 24, 2017

Dog Day Cicadas

Filed under: Neotibicen,Tibicen — Dan @ 9:22 am

Photo credit: N. canicularis (Dog-Day cicada) and N. davisi (Southern Dog-Day cicada) by Paul Krombholz.
Photo credit: N. canicularis (Dog-Day cicada) and N. davisi (Southern Dog-Day cicada) by Paul Krombholz.

Dog-day cicada is the common name given to Tibicen (now Neotibicen) type cicadas in North America. These cicadas are called “Dog Day” because they are typically observed during the “Dog Days of Summer“, which fall somewhere between late July to early September, or once the “Dog Star” Sirius appears in the morning sky. All Neotibicen species are present during the month of August in North America.

Here is a list of Neotibicen.

Dog-day cicadas are known for their green, brown, black & white coloration that provides them with excellent camouflage in the trees they inhabit.

Dog-day cicada is used generally to describe most Neotibicen, but a few species are explicitly named Dog-day:

  • Neotibicen canicularis aka the Dog-day cicada. Canicularis is Latin for “of the dog star”, and the dog star is Sirius. Found in AR, CT, DC, IL, IN, IA, KS, ME, MB, MD, MA, MI, MN, MO, NE, NB, NH, NJ, NY, NC, ND, NS, OH, ON, PA, PE, QC, RI, SC, SD, TN, VT, VA, WV, WI. Season: August-October.
  • Neotibicen davisi, aka the Southern Dog-day cicada. There are two sub-species. Found in AL, DE, DC, FL, GA, LA, MD, MA, MS, NJ, NY, NC, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV. Season: July-October.
  • Neotibicen superbus aka the Superb Dog-day cicada. Found in AR, KS, LA, MO, NM, OK, TX. Season: June-August.

Neotibicen superbus (Fitch, 1855)
Photo credit: Neotibicen superbus by Sloan Childers

These cicadas do not actually appear the moment Sirius rises, and when they do appear depends on your location and the weather. Neotibicen canicularis will appear in Arkansas before it appears in Quebec. That said, if you are curious when Sirius will rise in your area, search for “heliacal rising of sirius” — it varies about a day per degree of latitude. Neotibicen, depending on the species, can be found from May to December (December in Florida), but all Neotibicen species are present during the month of August in North America.

May 31, 2017

Neotibicen similaris apalachicola, a new cicada subspecies

Filed under: David Marshall,Kathy Hill,Neotibicen,United States — Dan @ 6:28 am

A new subspecies of the Similar Dog-Day Cicada has been described in the paper A new Neotibicen cicada subspecies (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) from the southeastern USA forms hybrid zones with a widespread relative despite a divergent male calling song by David C. Marshall and Kathy B. R. Hill (Zootaxa, Vol 4272, No 4). The cicada is named Neotibicen similaris apalachicola.

This cicada lives in Florida, Georgia & Alabama, and hybridizes with the other Similar Dog-Day Cicada sub-speces, Neotibicen similaris similaris. The document is available on biotaxa.org.

A morphologically cryptic subspecies of Neotibicen similaris (Smith and Grossbeck) is described from forests of the Apalachicola region of the southeastern United States. Although the new form exhibits a highly distinctive male calling song, it hybridizes extensively where it meets populations of the nominate subspecies in parapatry, by which it is nearly surrounded. This is the first reported example of hybridization between North American nonperiodical cicadas. Acoustic and morphological characters are added to the original description of the nominate subspecies, and illustrations of complex hybrid song phenotypes are presented. The biogeography of N. similaris is discussed in light of historical changes in forest composition on the southeastern Coastal Plain.

You will find song samples and maps on the Insect Singers website.

I think this is an image of the new cicada:

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.

Megatibicen

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.

September 7, 2016

Linne’s Cicada in Cape May County, NJ

Filed under: Elias Bonaros,Neotibicen — Tags: — Dan @ 8:15 pm

Here’s some footage of a Neotibicen linnei in Woodbine, Cape May County, NJ.

Elias almost caught it.

This footage was a byproduct of our cicada hunt for a different cicada, Neotibicen latifasciatus.

August 27, 2016

Neotibicen linnei from Middletown, NJ

Filed under: Neotibicen — Tags: — Dan @ 9:28 pm

One of my favorite things to do during the summer is look for cicadas during my lunch break.

Here’s a Linne’s Cicada I grabbed off a tree. It was not happy, as you might imagine, so went straight into a very loud alarm squawk.

There are many cicadas in the eastern U.S. that look like Linne’s Cicada but some clues that it is a Linne’s are the green collar, a bend in the coastal margin of the wing, dark coloration down the center of its abdomen, and only two white pruinose spots on its dorsal side.

N. linnei

More posts to come this week.

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