Updating (9/8) with some photos of an adult male Hieropglyhic cicada.
Updating (6/28) with some more locations: Bass River Park (E Greenbrook Rd), Harrisville Pond, Franklin Parker preserve.
Cicada season started in New Jersey last week with the emergence and singing of Neocicada Hieroglyphica aka the Hieroglyphic cicada. I heard them in Brendan T. Byrne state park and Hammonton. Someone on our Instagram said he heard them in Vineland.
Cicadas.info which specializes in the cicadas of the Mid-Atlantic, has Hieropglyhic cicadas starting around June 8th — this makes sense because they’re found in Florida, as well as more northern states like New Jersey and New York (Long Island).
You can hear their high-pitched screams in this video:
Hieroglyphic cicadas (Neocicada hieroglyphica aka Hieroglyphic Cicada) are present in most of southern New Jersey, particularly the Pine Barrens area which has sandy soil (pure sand in a lot of places) and many pine and oak trees. This area is historically prone to fires because of the dry sandy soil and sappy pines. The fact that at least some Hieroglyphic cicadas appear every year and spend many years underground probably helps them circumvent minor fires.
Here’s a photo of a Hieroglyphic and Northern Dusk-Singing Cicada exuvia (shed skin). Quite a difference! Brendan T. Byrne State Forest.
Brendan T. Byrne State Forest. Website. This is the best location I’ve found. Pine & oak forests with huckleberry undergrowth. Sandy soil. A good place to record and study their calls, as there is minimal interference from the general public. Exuvia of Hieroglyphic, Northern Dusk-Singing Cicada, and Neotibicen cicadas were easily found. Hieroglyphic Cicada choruses were very loud in the middle of the month (7/10-15), but by 7/31 very few were audible — look for them in late June, or early July.
1900 NJ-70, Manchester Township, NJ. This is a strip mall with a good pizza restaurant (Pop’s), a bar, and a breakfast restaurant. The mall is surrounded by pines and oaks and is a good place for hearing Hieroglyphic and Northern Dusk-Singing Cicadas, as well as some Neotibicen.
1936 Wildland Firefighter Memorial. 151-195 Greenbush Rd. Little Egg Harbor Twp, NJ. An interesting park that features the ruins of some buildings, and the typical combination of sandy soil, pine, oak, and huckleberry. Hieroglyphic cicadas were heard calling on pine trees. I believe this location is within Bass River State Forest.
Batso Village. Website. 31 Batsto Rd, Hammonton, NJ 08037. Batso Village is a large recreation of the Batso Village which produced iron and glass in the 18th century. It offers 3 or 4 trails that feature groves of pine trees inhabited by Hieroglyphic cicadas.
Franklin Parker Preserve. Website. Chatsworth Lake Entrance, 1450 County Rd 532, Chatsworth, NJ 08019. Some blackjack oak and sassafrass, but the forest is mostly pine. Hieroglphic cicadas are present and audible. The exuvia of small Neotibicen were present, and either N. canicularis or N. davisi are audible (I wouldn’t tell which).
All these areas are heavily infested with ticks, deer flies, and in some cases, mosquitos. Take precaution.
There are two subspecies of Neocicada hieroglyphica: Neocicada hieroglyphica hieroglyphica (Say, 1830) and Neocicada hieroglyphica johannis (Walker, 1850). According to Wm. T. Davis, a key difference is: on N. hieroglyphica johannis, “the black marks on the head, pronotum and mesonotum are more in the form of spots than of continuous lines as in typical hieroglyphica”.
Short Names: N. hieroglyphica hieroglyphica and N. hieroglyphica johannis
Former name/synonyms: Cicada hieroglyphica
Common Name: Hieroglyphic Cicada
When: May-August. Peaks in June.
Where are they found: N. hieroglyphica hieroglyphica is found in AL, AR, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MS, MO, NJ, NY, NC, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA, and N. hieroglyphica johannis is found in Florida
A description by Wm. T. Davis from MISSISSIPPI CICADAS, WITH A KEY TO THE SPECIES OF THE SOUTHEASTERN UNITED STATES1:
Cicada hieroglyphica Say.
Occurs from Riverhead, Long Island, N. Y., to eastern Kansas and southward. In peninsular Florida the variety johannis Walker replaces the typical form. The black marks on the head, pronotum and mesonotum are more in the form of spots than of continuous lines as in typical hieroglyphica.
The song does not continue long, but sometimes, as in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, the insects appear in numbers, when their united effort produces a considerable noise.
Neocicada australamexicana Sanborn & Sueur, 2005 is a cicada found in Mexico. There’s a very similar cicada in the United Stated called Neocicada hieroglyphica hieroglyphica (Say, 1830).
Neocicada australamexicana was formerly known as Tettigia hieroglyphica.
SubTribe: Leptopsaltriina [slender Harp player in Greek]
Species: Neocicada australamexicana Sanborn & Sueur, 2005
The image says Tettigia hieroglyphica, but the newest name for this cicada is Neocicada australamexicana.
The illustration comes from Biologia Centrali-Americana. Insecta. Rhynchota. Hemiptera-Homoptera. Vol. 1. By W. L. Distant F.E.S. and The Rev. Canon W. W. Fowler, F.L.S. (1881-1905). Read it on the Biodiversity Heritage Library website.
Once September rolls around in New Jersey (USA) temperatures start to drop, as do the cicadas. Labor Day weekend is a three day last hurrah for the summer. Folks have barbecues, take one last trip to the beach, or one last fishing trip to the lake. It’s one last chance to have some fun before the kids go back to school, the weather gets too cold to wear shorts, and hurricanes start ripping up the coastline. This past Labor Day weekend I found myself at Washington Crossing State Park in Titusville, NJ. You might have guessed that this park marks the location where founding father General George Washington famously crossed the Delaware River. I think of it was a place to find Neotibicen linnei and Neotibicen winnemanna in the same location.
Some video of their calls:
N. linnei and N. winnemanna belong to the “Green Group” of Neotibicen cicadas. All the cicadas in this group look very similar, and you have to tell them apart by their song or key morphological differences. Even with sound files of their songs to reference, photos and notes, telling them apart can be vexing and bemusing. In some cases species mate and form hybrids which make it even more difficult to tell them apart.
A is likely an N. linnei, and C is likely an N. winnemanna.
Probably an N. linnei although it lacks the wing bend. More black than beige, although that isn’t always a sure indicator of species.
Definitely an N. winnemanna because of all the beige on its abdomen. Yes, its head is missing,
After wandering the park for a few hours I was rewarded with a few dead specimens. One with eggs still stuck to its ovipositor, which was neat to see. I also recorded their calls — unfortunately no hybrids in the mix.
Part of the fun of traveling to see cicadas is visiting the place where the cicadas live. Washington Crossing State Park is far from the industry and urban decay New Jersey is known for. If you like scenic rivers, pastoral landscapes, American history, farmers markets, and antique stores, this area is for you. For me, it’s a nice place to observe cicadas. The park features many acres of deciduous and evergreen trees, perfect for cicadas. You can also walk the bridge to the Pennsylvania side of the river, where you’ll find more N. winnemanna than N. linnei.
Cicadas will be done mating before the end of September (actual date differs by location), and start dropping from the trees before the leaves being to change color. Go out this weekend and look and listen for the last cicadas of the year.