Brood V (5) 17-year cicadas have emerged, this spring of 2016, in Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia & West Virginia.
(7/4/16): It’s a wrap! I’m sure there are some periodical cicadas hanging on out there, but for the most part the emergence should be over. I hope you had fun.
(6/26/16): By now you should see (and hear) sharp declines in cicada populations. They’ll be gone in most places by July 4th. You should start to see Flagging of tree limbs where the cicadas lay their eggs. This is a natural part of the process.
When: Generally speaking, these cicadas will begin to emerge when the soil 8″ beneath the ground reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit. A nice, warm rain will often trigger a emergence. So, definitely May, but something might happen in April if we have a particularly hot spring.
Although the cicadas will emerge in MD, NY, OH, PA, VA and WV, the area is limited and patchy. No Brood V cicadas for D.C., Cincinnati, or NYC (people have asked). Their range is closer to this map (with cicadas in the orange areas):
Specific locations in L.I.:
Wildwood State Park – Confirmed!
Counties:Suffolk (Long Island).
Specific locations in Ohio:
The emergence should be good in the south eastern part of the state and in Summit, Medina, and southern Cuyahoga counties1.
Hocking State Forest, Hocking county, which is where James Edward Heath performed his investigation of periodical cicada Thermal Synchronization2.
Tar Hollow State Forest, in Laurelville, Hocking County, Ohio.
Strouds Run State Park, in Canaan Township, Athens County.
Read the paper: The 1999 Emergence of the Periodical Cicadas in Ohio (Homopetera: Cicadidae: Magicicada spp. Brood V) by Gene Kritsky, Jessee Smith, and Nicola T. Gallagher, published in 1999 in the journal Ohio Biological Survey.
You might notice that some cicadas have shriveled-up or otherwise damaged wings. Most of the time, wings become damaged during the molting process (ecdysis), specifically while their wings harden (sclerotize). Their wings, and body, are most vulnerable when they are still soft.
Some reasons why a cicadas’s wings might not get the chance to inflate and harden:
If a cicada molts and its wings are not able to hang downward they won’t inflate with fluids and form properly.
Cicadas often trample each other in the rush to find a place on a tree to molt.
Harsh weather, like wind and rain, knock them to the ground or bend their wings when they’re soft.
Physical weakness or defects.
Just 10 Magicicada (American periodical cicadas) generations ago, the U.S. was mostly forest. Back then it was easy to find a vertical surface to molt on, or a plant stem to hang from. Today most forests have been replaced with agriculture, buildings, lawns, roads, sidewalks, parking lots, etcetera — so it has become increasingly difficult for periodical cicadas to find a good place to hang.
Magicicada can afford to lose a large number of their population due to wing malformations and other critical defects, because there are simply so many of them — this loss falls in line with their predator satiation strategy.
However, if Magicicada lose too much habitat, they will go extinct (brood XI went extinct about 60 years ago). Lawns, roads, sidewalks, and other features of our human habitat create surfaces that are insalubrious for cicada molting.
In the video below, you will see a cicada molting. Note that its wings are able to hang downward and inflate to form properly shaped wings. If the cicada tried to molt on a vertical surface, the odds are its wings would be crumpled.
In the image below, there is a Neotibicen tibicen (not a periodical cicada) that sclerotized (hardened) before completely shedding its nymphal skin.
Although adorable, this Neotibicen will never sing or fly.
If you plan on keeping cicadas for a few hours, many containers will do. Just keep them in the shade, make sure the container is ventilated (has holes so air can flow in and out), and add a moist paper towel for a source of water & moisture.
I prefer to use Butterly Pavilions, which are small, expandable, portable enclosures. You can reuse them for other insects once the cicadas have gone.
Any Longer than a few hours, and you should make sure the cicadas have a source of fluids — the best source is a tree branch.
Cicada researcher & enthusiast Elias Bonaros shared his secrets for keeping adult cicadas alive. His record is 28 days for a Neotibicen auletes.
I usually used oak branches for above two species. I placed them into a butterfly pavilion. I used a small spring water bottle into the enclosure and placed the end of the branch into it. Be sure to place some paper towel or cotton in the open spaces at the mouth of the bottle because I had some specimens walk into the bottle and drown! Our beloved cicadas are not too bright.
I have never tried the sapling although that would seem the best as the tree can generate its own xylem pressure.
I change the branch every day vs every other day. Every third day is not good.
Takes a lot of work.
Another idea is to surround a branch of a live tree with netting, and place them in that — the same type of netting you would use to keep them off a branch will keep them on it.
The advantage of a Butterfly Pavilion is you can keep the cicada inside your home or lab.
Is it possible to raise cicadas? It is, but it requires patience and commitment.
The master of raising cicadas is a Japanese amateur cicada biologist named Shougo Murayama. Shougo has raised more than 1,000 cicadas of six or more species from eggs to adults in his backyard by growing them in see-through pots in clay soil with Aloe or Yucca plants. You can visit his website for more information (tip: use Firefox for better display of the text & then cut and paste it into Google translate). According to Shougo Murayama’s website, the cicadas he raised had 2 to 5 year life cycles.
David Logan of New Zealand successfully raised Kikihia ocharina cicadas from egg to adult. The details of this study can be found in the article Nymphal development and lifecycle length of Kikihia ocharina from 2006. It is important to note that K. ocharina have a short 3 year lifespan, and Logan raised the nymphs in pots with live plants. Logan’s study includes a section about care of the cicada’s egg before they hatch; hatching can take months, so this part is important. Logan placed the twig with eggs in a vial which he blocked with a moist material.
Logan conducted another study in 2014, this time with Amphipsalta zelandica (Boisduval), proving his methods work.
Richard Karban raised 15-year-old Magicicada nymphs to adulthood using peach trees as hosts for his study of how periodical cicadas keep track of time. This is not quite the same thing as raising cicadas from eggs, but it shows they can be raised outside of their natural habitat. Karban observed a high rate of mortality from the difficult process of transferring cicadas to new roots.
Most people who visit this website (Cicada Mania) are looking for American periodical cicada (Magicicada) information. Raising Magicicada would be quite a commitment. You’ll need an environment that mimics the Magicicada’s natural habitat, including the right soil & host plans, and you’ll need to maintain for at least 13 years (for the 13 year species, 17 years for the 17).
If you’re serious and live in the United States, a cicada with a short lifecycle like Diceroprocta apache will require less of a commitment.
Should you decide to raise cicadas, be sure to read the resources mentioned in this article, and consider the following tips:
Expect 95% of the cicadas to die
Care of the eggs is critical
Use host plants and soil preferred by the species
Use a species that has a short life cycle
Use see-through pots so you can see the cicadas as they develop
I might consider doing this experiment myself, but I would definitely choose a species with a short life-span. I might place some grasses in the pot, in addition to a larger host plant, to give 1st instar nymphs more tiny roots to choose from. I have a (perhaps irrational) fear of a house guest dumping a cup off coffee into my cicada host plant and killing the entire experiment.
Thanks to Chris Simon of The Simon Lab at UConn for pointing me to many of these references.
Logan, DP. 2006. Nymphal development and lifecycle length of Kikihia ocharina (Walker)(Homopetera:Cicadidae). The Weta, 31:12-22.
Logan, DP, Rowe CA, Maher BJ. 2014. Life history of chorus cicada, an endemic pest of Kiwifruit (Homopetera:Cicadidae). New Zealand Entomologist. 37:2:96-102.
Karban, R, Black CA, Weinbaum SA. 2000. How 17-year cicadas keep track of time. Ecology Letters. 3: 253-256.
The point of this article is that you should be on the alert for Magicicada periodical cicadas, no matter what year it is, and if you see or hear them, report them.
Stragglers, in terms of cicadas, are periodical cicadas that emerge in years prior to (precursors) or after their brood is expected to emerge. Most often, 17 year cicada stragglers emerge four years prior to their expected emergence date — but it is possible for periodical cicadas to emerge between 8 years earlier and 4 years later than expected. Read more about cicada stragglers.
This year (2016) Brood IX stragglers should emerge in southern West Virginia, western Virginia and the north-middle part of North Carolina that connects with western Virginia. See a map here.
Looking at the live map on Magicicada.org, it is obvious that most reports come from Brood V and stragglers appear to be emerging in the Brood IX & VI areas as expected — however, there are a fair number of reports in the Brood II and X areas, which is odd.
Red: Brood V
Orange: Brood IX, 4 years early (most probable)
Yellow: Brood VI, 1 year early (probable)
Green: Brood II, 3 years late (rare, but possible)
Dark Green: Brood X, 5 years early (rare, but possible)
As stated before, it is common for periodical cicadas to emerge 4 years early, but 5 years early is rare. So why Brood X be stragglers this year? That requires a little more thought.
Now we enter the realm of conjecture…
Rick Karban in the paper How 17-year cicadas keep track of time1 demonstrated how you can get cicadas to emerge earlier than expected if you alter the seasonal cycles of their host trees. Make the tree experience two cycles in one year, the cicadas will read this as “two years have passed” and they’ll emerge a year earlier. So, in the case of Brood X stragglers, it could be that their host trees experienced weather fluctuations that caused them to do something that signaled the cicadas that 2 years had passed. Add the 4 years they would likely straggle + 1 year caused by fluctuations from the host tree, and that makes for a 5 year straggler.
Growing Degree Days tell us why the Northeast had such an early surge in plant growth but then slowed. From late February to early April temperatures were near record warm in the Northeast with the 2nd most Growing Degree Days (GDD) in 25 years (chart/map left). This allowed plants to emerge way too early and then the freezes came!
Perhaps this early surge in plant growth, then a freeze, then growth again seemed like two years had passed to some cicadas. Perhaps.
1How 17-year cicadas keep track of time, Richard Karban, Carrie A. Black1 and Steven A. Weinbaum, Ecology Letters (2000) 3 : 253-256.
The media (news papers, bloggers, etc.) sometimes use terms to describe cicadas, and periodical cicada emergences, that range from simply incorrect to grossly hyperbolic. It is unclear if they do this to match reader expectations, to get more clicks, to write a more entertaining article, or simply because they don’t have all the facts. It bothers me when the media uses a photo or video of the wrong species, which is why I have the use the correct image page.
What media mistakes have you witnessed? Let us know in the comments.
Professor Chris Simon, of the University of Connecticut Simon Lab, is one of the premier cicada experts in the world. She provided us with her list of Magicicada Media Faux Pas (below). How many of these have you seen? Can you think of more?
Incorrect Descriptive Words
“swarm” They don’t swarm—i.e. fly around in large groups.
“invasion” They don’t invade. They have been there the whole time.
They are not a plague like grasshoppers that come in and eat everything–they don’t chew leaves. They suck.
“overrun” Implies that they are imposing us when in fact we are much more of an imposition on them–clearing their trees and building Walmarts on top of them.
Here are some more funny ones…
“lurking underground” They are not lurking or threatening, they are innocently feeding on tree roots.
“hatching out of the ground” They don’t hatch out of the ground, they hatched from eggs in tree branches 17years ago.
Soil temperature triggers periodical cicada emergences:
James Edward Heath in his paper Thermal Synchronization of Emergence in Periodical “17-year” Cicadas (Homoptera, Cicadidae, Magicicada)1 discovered that periodical cicadas will emerge, on average, when the soil 8 inches below the ground reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit:
Soil temperature at 20-cm [7.87 in] depth in seven locations averaged 17.89 C [64.202 F] at the time of emergence, regardless of date. Cicadas emerging from burrows had average body temperatures of 18.04 C [64.472 F]. Synchrony in emergence may be due to animals reaching a critical threshold temperature.
The soil warms their bodies and that triggers the cicadas to emerge.
A warm rain, which will seep into the earth and warm the bodies of cicadas, can trigger a “particularly intensive” emergence.
Alexander and Moore (1962) noted that emergences were par- ticularly intensive following warm rains ( > 2 0 C ? ). I believe this suggests that the soil temperature probably was near emergence tem- perature and the heat transported by the water percolating into the ground warmed the soil sufficiently to raise soil temperature above the emergence threshold.
Some unanswered questions I have are: 1) how long does the temperature have to be 64°F+ – just a moment, or a certain number of hours, and 2) because we know not all cicadas emerge instantaneously, what is the maximum temperature that for certain will clear them from the soil?
This is an example of a temperature probe use to study the emergence temperature of cicadas. The probe in this picture is held by cicada researcher Gene Kritsky:
Note that males typically emerge before females, and that the larger ‘decim species emerge before the smaller cassini species.
I think I know what you’re thinking: “I don’t own a temperature probe, how can I guess when the temperature is 64°F 8” below the soil? Direct sunlight, air temperature and rain warms the soil. Southern facing land will warm sooner than northern facing land. Land in direct sunlight will warm faster than land in shade. Rainfall on a 80°+ day will quickly do the trick, but two weeks of temps in the 70°’s should work as well. So keep an eye on the 10-day weather forecast and watch for those days in the 70s, and especially the 80s.
Minimum Flight Temperature:
Their body temperature needs to be a little warmer than that to fly. Their minimum flight temperature (MFT) is 18-21°C / 65-70°F. The temperature varies depending on the Brood and species. They’ll need a few more degrees before they’re fully functional, and start singing and mating.
So, until their bodies are about 72°F (“room temperature”) they won’t be flying, singing and mating.
Maximum voluntary tolerance temperature:
Maximum voluntary tolerance temperature (MVT) for periodical cicadas is 31-34°C / 88-93°F, again depending on Brood and species. Maximum voluntary tolerance is the point at which cicadas seek shade and when thermoregulation takes precedence over other behaviors.