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Dedicated to cicadas, the most amazing insects in the world.

September 3, 2018

Looking for adult cicadas at night

Filed under: Citizen Science,FAQs,Neotibicen — Tags: , , — Dan @ 8:25 am

Nighttime is often the best time to find cicadas.

Nymphs, generally speaking, emerge soon after sunset. When I look for nymphs, I wait until sunset and start looking around tree roots and on tree trunks. Sometimes it takes hours, but usually, I find one (or many).

Cicada Nymph:
Megatibicen resh  female climbing 3

Adult cicadas are easiest to find on hot, humid nights in well-lit areas like parking lots and the sides of buildings. You will find them clinging to illuminated walls and crawling on sidewalks. They end up on the ground, often because they fly into the wall and stun themselves. On a hot humid night — 85F or above — I’ll find an excuse (usually frozen desserts) to check the walls of the local supermarket for cicadas.

Cicadas, like many insects, are attracted to (or confused by) lights. There are many theories as to why insects are attracted to lights, and the reasons why probably vary by species. My guess (and this is just a guess) is that cicadas can’t tell day from night, or daylight (sun) from artificial lights, and so they think they’re using light to navigate away from a dark area (a tree trunk, dense brush), and then get very confused because they never seem to get anywhere once they reach the source of the light. I wish I could ask a cicada why.

Prime nighttime cicada location: a well-lit building and macadam parking lot:
Nighttime prime cicada location

Cicadas can damage their skin and innards by fling into and bouncing off walls:
Nightime N linnei with wound

A Neotibicen tibicen clinging to a cinderblock wall:
Nighttime N tibicen on wall

A Megatibicen auletes crawling on an illuminated sidewalk:
Megatibicen auletes in Manchester NJ

If you go looking for cicadas at night, make sure you have permission to be where you plan to look. Don’t trespass, and have respect for other people’s property.

May 13, 2018

What is the largest cicada?

Filed under: FAQs — Dan @ 8:41 am

The largest known cicada is the Megapomponia imperatoria (Westwood, 1842) of south-east Asia. The specimen in the photo below was captured in Malaysia and it’s wingspan measured 20 centimters/7.9 inches. Other species might be larger in terms of weight, but I’m not sure.

Megapomponia imperatoria
Photo of a Megapomponia imperatoria (formerly Pomponia imperatoria) by Michel Chantraine.

Other very large cicadas include the Bear Cicada of Japan (Cryptotympana facialis), and Tacua speciosa of south-east Asia.

Tacua speciosa from Malaysia (peace)
Tacua speciosa from Malaysia by anonymous photographer.

The largest cicada in North America is the Megatibicen auletes:

Megatibicen auletes (Germar, 1834)
Northern Dusk-Singing Cicadas aka Megatibicen auletes. Photo by me.

These very large cicadas are loud, but not the loudest. Learn about loud cicadas.

August 13, 2017

How long do cicadas live?

Filed under: FAQs,Life Cycle — Dan @ 12:09 pm

The most famous cicadas — North American periodical cicadas — typically live 17 or 13 years. These cicadas only represent about 0.2% of all cicadas, most of which live shorter lives.

Magicicada_septendecim_Jim_Thorpe
Magicicada septendecim cicadas live 17 years.

Cicada Life Spans:

Cicada life spans (life cycle length) vary from one year, to as many as 21, depending on the species. Cicadas like Myopsalta crucifera and Parnkalla muelleri of Australia have one year life cycles6. Magicicada septendecim, M. cassini and M. septendecula, of the United States, can live as long as 21 years (read What are Stragglers?).

Some life spans for well known cicadas:

    North America:

  • Magicicada septendecim, M. cassini and M. septendecula: 13 to 2210, but typically 17.
  • Magicicada tredecim, M. neotredecim, M. tredecassini, and M. tredecula: 9 to 17, but typically 13.
  • Diceroprocta apache: 2-5, but typically 3-4 years1.
  • Tibicen genera: 2-7 years2.
  • Okanagana rimosa: 9 years3.
  • Okanagana synodica: possibly 17 to 19 years.5
    Australia:

  • Cyclochila australasiae: 6-7. 6
    India:

  • Chremistica ribhoi: 4. 7
    Japan:

  • Hyalessa maculaticollis: 2-5, but typically 3. 8
    New Zealand:

  • Amphipsalta zealandica: 3-4, but typically 4. 9

Table 3 of the paper Genome expansion via lineage splitting and genome reduction in the cicada endosymbiont Hodgkinia (Campbell et al, 2015) contains a large table of cicada life cycle lengths.

Annual, Periodical, or Protoperiodical

Most cicadas appear on an Annual basis, meaning that every year adults will appear.

It is common for many species to be Protoperiodical as well, meaning that some years will see an abundance of adults, while other years there will be a limited number of that species. Okanagana rimosa, in particular, are Protoperiodical 9.

Some species, like the Magicicada species and Chremistica ribhoi, appear on a Periodical basis, meaning that after a specific number of years almost all adults of the species will emerge.

Life Expectancy

Although many cicadas have long life cycles, not many of them make it to adulthood. Nymphal mortality of Magicicada can reach 98% in the first 2 years 4. Imagine if all those cicadas made it to adulthood. 50 times more cicadas! Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.

Magicicada is just one genus of cicadas (representing about 0.2% of all species), but I have to think that most cicadas, regardless of species, will never make it to adulthood.

How long do cicadas live as adults?

Short answer: about a month.

How long a cicada lives as an adult depends on the species, but the answer could be from a matter of seconds, if the cicada dies due to predation or an accident, to more than a month. Cicadas are primarily subterranean plant (mostly tree) parasites and only enter their above-ground, adult form to mate/reproduce.

A particular species of cicada — like Neotibicen tibicen tibicen — might appear to last for two or three months, because their song can be heard for that length of time, but that’s likely because they emerge over the course of a month, not all on the same day, extending length of time their species is present above ground.

No matter what the species, adult cicadas perish within a season or two, and do not live multiple years in their adult form, like other types of insects. They won’t try to move inside your house once winter approaches to find warmth and shelter.

References

1 Aaron R. Ellingson, Douglas C. Andersen and Boris C. Kondratieff (2002) Observations of the Larval Stages of Diceroprocta apache Davis (Homoptera: Tibicinidae), , Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society, Vol. 75, No. 4, pp. 283-289. Link.
2 Richard Fox, Tibicen spp, (2001) http://lanwebs.lander.edu/faculty/rsfox/invertebrates/tibicen.html
3 Soper RS, Delyzer AJ, & Smith LFR (1976) The genus Massospora entomopathogenic for cicadas. Part II. Biology of Massospora levispora and its host Okanagana rimosa, with notes on Massospora cicadina and the periodical cicadas. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 69(1):89-95.
4 Karban R. 1984. Opposite density effects of nymphal and adult mortality for periodical cicadas. Ecology 65: 1656-61.
5 Campbell et al. 10.1073/pnas.1421386112.
6 Moulds MS (1990) Australian Cicadas (New South Wales University Press, Kensington, NSW, Australia).
7 Hajong SR & Yaakop S (2013) Chremistica ribhoi sp. n. (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) from North-East India and its mass emergence. Zootaxa 3702(5):493.
8 Logan DP, Rowe CA, & Maher BJ (2014) Life history of chorus cicada, an endemic pest of kiwifruit (Cicadidae: Homoptera). New Zealand Entomologist:1-11.
9 Kathy Williams & Chris Simon, The Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution of Periodical Cicadas, (1995), Annu.Rev. Entomol. 40:269-95.
10 David C. Marshall, John R. Cooley, and Kathy Hill, Developmental Plasticity of Life-Cycle Length in Thirteen-Year Periodical Cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae), Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 104(3): 443Ð450 (2011)

January 11, 2017

All the cicada FAQs

Filed under: FAQs — Dan @ 1:01 am

FAQs

This is a list of all the cicada “frequently asked questions” on our site.

Cicada Biology

  1. Can Cicadas See?
  2. Do cicadas pee?
  3. Do cicadas stink?
  4. How many types of cicadas are there?
  5. How to tell if a Cicada is a Male or Female?
  6. Is there such thing as an albino cicada?
  7. Why do some cicadas have shriveled up or damaged wings?
  8. What is the largest cicada?

Cicada Sounds, Singing, “Noise”

  1. Do cicadas sing at night?
  2. How do cicadas make sounds / noise?
  3. What cicada is the loudest?
  4. When do cicadas sing?

Cicada Behavior

  1. Do cicadas bite or sting?
  2. What do cicadas do?
  3. Are cicadas attracted to the sound of lawnmowers and other machinery?
  4. How long do cicadas live?
  5. What do Cicadas Eat?
  6. What is the purpose of cicadas?
  7. Where do cicadas live?

Cicada Predators aka What Eats Cicadas

  1. 10 Facts about Cicada Killer Wasps
  2. Can pets or other animals sense cicadas below ground?
  3. What Eats Cicadas?

Studying or Observing Cicadas

  1. How do I photograph cicadas at night?
  2. Is it possible to raise cicadas?
  3. Keeping cicadas for a short period of time
  4. Where can I buy cicadas online?

Human / Cicada Interaction

  1. How do you pronounce Cicada?
  2. How to say in different languages?
  3. What do cicadas symbolize?
  4. What is the root of the word cicada?
  5. What Might Cause Cicadas to go Extinct?

17 & 13 Year / Magicicada / Periodical / “Locusts”:

  1. Can you see letters like W & P on a cicada’s wings?
  2. Did Someone Offer a Reward for White or Blue-eyed Cicadas?
  3. How can I prevent cicadas from damaging my plants?
  4. How Long Does a Periodical Cicada Emergence Last?
  5. What are Broods?
  6. What are Stragglers?
  7. What is Predator Satiation?
  8. Are cicadas locusts?
  9. Which fungus attacks Magicicadas?
  10. Why do Magicicada stay underground for 13 or 17 years?
  11. Will the cicadas kill my trees, shrubs or flowers?

About Cicada Mania

  1. About Cicada Mania
  2. Email: cicadamania@gmail.com

May 21, 2016

Why do some cicadas have shriveled up or damaged wings?

Filed under: Cicada Anatomy,FAQs — Dan @ 5:00 pm

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.

Hang Time

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.
  • Malnutrition.
  • Physical weakness or defects.
  • Fungi infection.
  • Predator attacks.


Stuck

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 cicadas 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.

Male Tibicen tibicen (crippled)
Although adorable, this Neotibicen will never sing or fly.

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