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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.

August 12, 2016

Watch a Swamp Cicada shed its skin

Filed under: Neotibicen — Dan @ 6:30 am

Here’s a video I made this week. It is a Neotibicen tibicen tibicen (formerly Tibicen chloromera) shedding its skin as it enters the final phase of its development. The video is in 4K HD, but you have to fuss with the YouTube interface to see it at that resolution (good luck). Each frame represents a 30 sec time span.

Spoilers:

At 18 seconds its head pops out of its old skin.

At 27 seconds it frees its wings.

At 51 seconds it flips and unfurls its wings.

At 85 seconds it moves its wings into place.

At 100 seconds you can see pigment pulse through the cicadas mesonotum:

meso

Here’s another video from last night:

July 25, 2016

Annual Cicada Hunt in Manchester, New Jersey

Filed under: Elias Bonaros,Neotibicen — Tags: — Dan @ 8:34 pm

Neotibicen auletes

Since 2013 I’ve met Elias Bonaros and Annette DeGiovine in Manchester, New Jersey to search for the cicada Neotibicen auletes. It has become an annual tradition.

N. auletes is the largest cicada in the Americas, they have a particularly arresting call, and are a beautiful lime green when recently molted. They are definitely worth taking the time to find.

Locating and observing cicadas in northern States can be particularly vexing because they are far less abundant, and much of their habitat has been eliminated to make way for the ever-growing, densely-packed human population. It is a treat any time we can find and observe a living cicada specimen up-close. If you’re the type who likes to travel to observe cicadas, New Jersey is not a great place to start on the east coast. Southern states, starting at North Carolina to Florida are your best bets, in terms of species diversity and abundance. If you’re a collector, be aware of local laws — for instance, collecting in Florida is completely forbidden.

This year’s adventure began around 7:15pm when I arrived at the mini-mall where Caballero’s Pizzeria is located (Manchester, NJ on Route 70). Part of the tradition is to have a few slices of pizza, and after four years the owner knows who we are. The mini-mall the pizzeria is located in is bordered on the right by a sandy-soil pine & oak forest, and in front by two small groves of tall oaks & pines. Oddly, the ground of these groves has been covered with a back mesh tarp, which completely prevents underbrush growth. This doesn’t seem to deter cicadas from emerging, bu I’m skeptical that future generations of cicadas will find the smaller plant roots they need during the early stages of life.

At 7:15pm the small and beautiful Neocicada hieroglyphica cicadas were singing from many trees in groves and forest (they would continue singing to around 9pm, well past sunset). Around 7:30pm Neotibicen linnei began to join them.

Elias and Annette arrived shortly before sunset, around 8pm, giving them time and daylight to scout the grounds for deceased adult specimens and exuvia (molted skins); oddly none were found. Neotibicen auletes calls at dusk, right after sunset. On queue multiple N. auletes began calling from the trees in the groves and forest, like a soloist overpowering the lesser vocalists and instruments around him, N. auletes are the divas of the New Jersey cicada opera.

Elias photographing an auletes:
EliasBonaros

No exuvia or dead N. auletes was found, but the many calls we heard were encouraging. Once night fell we began to search the local area for emerging nymphs and molting adults. After a long search Elias found a single female auletes molting on the side of a school. Three hours of searching only yeilded one cicada — for those who have experienced periodical cicada emergences, or those who live in areas with an abundance of annual species, a lone cicada would be very disappointing. For Elias, Annette and I, finding a lone (locally) rare cicada, was not disappointing at all.

The funniest moment of the night came when a local policeman asked us if we were hunting Pokemon! Of course we were not — we were hunting cicadas. A little harder to explain, and probably more fun.

Video from the trip:

Previous Manchester NJ auletes adventures:

July 23, 2016

New paper catalogs the cicadas of India, India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka

Filed under: India — Dan @ 6:09 am

A paper titled The cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) of India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka: an annotated provisional catalogue, regional checklist and bibliography was published in June of 2016 in the Biodiversity Data Journal 4: e8051. The authors of the document include, Benjamin Wills Price, Elizabeth Louise Allan, Kiran Marathe, Vivek Sarkar, Chris Simon, Krushnamegh Kunte, but I think Ben was the lead.

You can access it here: http://bdj.pensoft.net/articles.php?id=8051

Quotes from the abstract:

Background

The cicadas of the Indian subcontinent, like many other insects in the region, have remained understudied since the early part of the 20th Century, and await modern taxonomic, systematic and phylogenetic treatment. This paper presents an updated systematic catalogue of cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) from India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka, the first in over a century.

New information

This paper treats 281 species, including: India and Bangladesh (189 species), Bhutan (19 species), Myanmar (81 species), Nepal (46 species) and Sri Lanka (22 species). For each species all recognized junior synonyms are included with information on the type material and additional specimens where relevant.

For images of the cicada described in the document, head on over to the Cicadas of India website.

Reading a 97 year old cicada news article

Filed under: Magicicada,Periodical — Dan @ 5:02 am

Locust

I was looking through old newspapers for articles about periodical cicadas. I found an article in the Taiban Valley News from April of 1919, titled “17-Year Locust” Due This Year1. The Taiban Valley news was published out of New Mexico, which does not experience periodical cicadas aka “17-year locusts”, so I guess the story was supplied to its readers as a curiosity — just something oddball/interesting to read. The text of the article was supplied by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (possibly C.L. Marlatt himself), and the main image of the article is an illustration that appeared previously in U.S. Department of Agriculture documents and is attributable to a Miss L. Sullivan2.

“Locusts”

97 years ago people called periodical cicadas “locusts”, just as they do today. I quote, “It has been so long miscalled by the name of locust, however, that there is no hope of divesting it of that incorrect appellation”. “No hope”! Even today, about half the people I meet call them “locusts”.

Human lifespans were a lot shorter 97 years ago

The next fact — and this startled me — is how short the average human lifespan was 97 years ago. I quote: “The fact that it appears in countless numbers one year, then is not seen again for half the average lifetime of human beings and then suddenly appears again in countless numbers”.

Half the average lifespan of human beings? Back in 1919 the average life expectancy was just 55. At most a person could expect to witness 3 emergences back then, and since babies and toddlers really don’t remember things, 2 times makes sense. Today (2016) life expectancy is around 79 years in the U.S., which means the average person will only get to see 4. I’ve seen 9, but I travel around.

Vermont still had periodical cicadas:

Back in 1919, Vermont still had periodical cicadas: “with some Isolated colonies as far northeast as upper Vermont”. Since then, they must have gone extinct.

Brood 18?

The article talks about Brood 18 emerging in the same year as Brood 10 (note, the article does not use Roman numerals). I believe the Brood 18 the article they refer to is what we now call Brood 19 (XIX) today. The article describes Brood 18 as having a 13-year life cycle, and occurring in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. The only brood that matches that is Brood XIX (see the map).

If it is indeed Brood XIX, the article is likely incorrect about the coincidence of Brood XIX and X emerging in 1919. While Brood X definitely emerged in 1919, Brood XIX would emerge in the following year 2020. Interestingly enough, the now extinct Brood XI emerged in 2020 (in Connecticut).

The rest of the article is less remarkable, but still a fun read for “the most interesting insect in the world”.

Update (8/26/2016):

David Marshall of the University of Connecticut pointed out a map of the Brood XVIII that was indeed set for emergence in 1919, which is likely what the writes of the article were citing. David points out though that this Brood XVIII was likely comprised of one-year-early emergences (stragglers) of Brood XIX, rather than an actual unique brood.

Brood XVIII

The periodical cicada, Marlatt, C. L., Washington, D.C. :U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Bureau of Entomology,1907.

1 Taiban Valley news., Taiban, Roosevelt County, N.M. April 04, 1919.
2 C. L. MARLATT. Account Of Cicada Septendecim, Its Natural Enemies And The Means Of Preventing Its Injury, Together With A Summary Of The Distribution Of The Different Broods. U. S. Department Of Agriculture. Division Of Entomology. Bulletin No. 14. 1898.

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