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January 15, 2013

Tibicen or Lyristes

Filed under: Lyristes,Tibicen — Dan @ 8:50 pm

A Tibicen by any other name would still sound as sweet…

I always wondered why Lyristes plebejus is also called Tibicen plebejus.

It seems that there is a dispute as to whether the genus Tibicen should actually be called Lyristes. A petition was made (back in the 1980s) to the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, to change Tibicen to Lyristes. I learned this from the wonderful new book, The Cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadoidea: Cicadidae) of North America North of Mexico by Allen F. Sanborn and Maxine S. Heath (order it). I checked the ICZN website, and the petition appears to fallen off their docket of open cases. I also noticed that on European and Japanese websites, they use Lyristes.

I personally hope the genus name doesn’t change for North American species — I would have to make a lot of changes on this website. Going through the name change from Tibicen chloromera to Tibicen chloromerus to Tibicen tibcen, was bad enough.

The root of the word Tibicen is flute player, and the root of the word Lyristes is lyre — both referring to musical instruments. (Frankly I think most Tibicen sound like power tools — I don’t know Latin for Black & Decker).

BTW, this is a Lyristes plebejus (from Spain):

Freshly emerged male Tibicen/Lyristes plebejus

And this is a Lyristes flammatus (from Japan):

Tibicen flammatus

And some day, this might be a Lyristes auletes (from North Carolina):

Tibicen auletes

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