I’m starting a new series on this blog called “has its name changed?” I’m looking through old documents and papers and using modern documents like Allen Sanborn’s Catalogue of the Cicadoidea (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha) to check. Cicada names change from time to time, based on new discoveries by the modern cicada research/science community, and sometimes to fix grammar (like gender agreement between genus and species).
This cicada is Hemisciera maculipennis (de Laporte, 1832), also known as the “stop and go” or “stop light” cicada because of the red and green color of its wings. If you want to see one in real life, they exist in Central and South America, specifically Panama, Ecuador, Brazil, and adjacent nations. If you’re in New York and you want to see one, they have a few in the collection at the Staten Island Museum — last time I was there, there was a faded one in a display by the door (UV rays fade cicada specimen colors).
Sub Tribe: Guyana
Species: Hemisciera maculipennis (de Laporte, 1832)
And, since 1914 at least, its name has not changed.
Hemisciera Amyot & Serville genus description by W. L. Distant:
Characters. — Head (including eyes) considerably broader than base of mesonotum, eves porrect, more or less stylate, length of head about equal to half its breadth between eyes, and distinctly shorter than pronotum which is about equal in length to mesonotum; abdomen a little shorter than space between apex of head and base of cruciform elevation, tympanal coverings in male with their inner margins strongly concave; metasternal plate well developed, centrally longitudinally impressed and anteriorly produced on each side; rostrum reaching the posterior coxae; anterior femora strongly spined beneath; opercula in male small, transverse, not extending beyond base of abdomen, tegmina about two and a half times as long as broad, with eight apical areas and the basal cell about as long as broad.
- The illustration comes from the journal Genera Insectorum, and a specific article from 1914 by W. L. Distant titled Homoptera. Fam. Cicadidae, Subfam, Gaeaninae. Read it on the Biodiversity Heritage Library website.
- Species name information/verification comes from Allen Sanborn’s Catalogue of the Cicadoidea (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha).
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The NCSU Libraries Rare and Unique Digital Collections website recently reminded the us of artist Eugene Alain (E.A.) Seguy’s insect illustrations. Seguy created these illustrations in the 1920’s, and as you might imagine, some of the cicada names cited in the notes for these illustrations have changed. Names typically change when cicadas are reclassified due to discoveries about their biology, or when we realize that someone else had actually named them earlier than the namer currently given credit.
Here are the two illustrations, the accompanying identification, and corrected identifications.
1. Tacua speciosa. Indes; 2. Polyneura ducalis. Indes Or.; 3. Cicada saccata. Australie; 4. Cicada fascialis. Siam; 5. Tozena melanoptera. Indes Or.
Corrected or expanded identification:
- Tacua speciosa. This is correct, although there are two subspecies of T. speciosa, I’m going to guess it is Tacua speciosa speciosa (Illiger, 1800) based on the location.
- Polyneura ducalis. This is correct. Polyneura ducalis Westwood, 1840.
- Cicada saccata. This is now: Thopha saccata (Fabricius, 1803).
- Cicada fascialis. This is now: Cryptotympana facialis facialis (Walker, 1858). Update: David Emery says this might be a Cryptotympana acuta (Signoret, 1849).
- Tozena melanoptera. Close enough. Tosena melanoptera melanoptera (White, 1846). There are a few unnamed subspecies.
1. Goeana festiva. Indes; 2. Zammara tympanum. Amérique du Sud; 3. Goeana ochracea. Indes; 4. Phenax variegata. Brésil; 5. Hemisciera maculipennis. Amazone
Corrected or expanded identification:
- Goeana festiva is actually Callogaeana festiva festiva (Fabricius, 1803).
- Zammara tympanum. This is correct. Zammara tympanum (Fabricius, 1803).
- Goeana ochracea is way off. It is a Talainga binghami Distant, 1890.
- Phenax variegata is not a cicada, is it a fulgoroid planthopper, but the id is correct.
- Hemisciera maculipennis is correct. Hemisciera maculipennis (de Laporte, 1832) aka the “Stop and Go” cicada, because its colors resemble the colors of a stop light.
I spent most of the day at the Staten Island Museum. The Staten Island Museum has North America’s largest collection of cicadas — over 35,000 specimens!!! Most, if not all the specimens came from William T. Davis’ personal collection. Davis was a naturalist and entomologist located in Staten Island, NY, who was active in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Read more about the collection.
The museum is currently working on a huge cicada exhibit and many cicada events throughout the year. The They’re Baaack! Return of the 17-year Cicada Family Day event will happen in a few weeks.
Here’s a few shots of the museum and the collection I took with my camera phone:
Part of their giant Wall of Insects:
Number 39 in that photo is Hemisciera maculipennis, aka the “stop and go cicada”. When alive the cicada’s coloring is green and red, like a traffic signal. Here is a photo of a live H. maculipennis.
Tibicen and Cicada Killer Wasps:
Tacua speciosa detail:
A giant light-up cicada outside the museum:
Just part of the Staten Island Museum’s cicada collection
Thanks to Ed Johnson, Director of Science, for showing me many of amazing specimens in the museum’s collection.
Bonus: You can download a copy of William T. Davis’ document North American Cicadas. It’s free!