Cicada Mania

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

Genera of cicadas.

September 26, 2018

Odopoea degiacomii Distant, 1912

Odopoea degiacomii Distant, 1912, was described by British entomologist W. L. Distant in 1812.

Odopoea degiacomii is a visually impressive cicada with a prominent pronotal collar that should inspire thoughts of Dracula the Vampire (like other members of the cicada tribe Zammarini). It won’t suck your blood, but it will suck xylem sap from trees.

This cicada is found in the Dominican Republic and probably Haiti.

Scientific classification:
Family: Cicadidae
Sub Family: Cicadinae
Tribe: Zammarini
Genus: Odopoea
Species: Odopoea degiacomii Distant, 1912

Odopoea degiacomii Distant, 1912

An Odopoea degiacomii Stål genus description by W. L. Distant from Genera Insectorum:

Characters. — Head (including eyes) about equal in width t.. base of mesonotum, ocelli a little wider apart from eyes than from each other, eyes prominent, a little passing the anterior pronotal angles; face more or less longitudinally sulcate; rostrum about reaching the posterior cox*; pronotum shorter than mesonotum, the lateral margins angularly ampliate; mesonotum (including basal cruciform elevation) almost as long as head and pronotum together; abdomen broad, centrally ridged, the lateral areas more or less oblique, about as long as space between apex of head and base of cruciform elevation; operçula short, broad, not extending beyond base of abdomen; tympanal coverings outwardly complete, the orifices only exposed inwardly; tegmina three or more than three times as long as broad, apical areas eight; wings with six apical areas.

References:

  1. 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.
  2. Species name information/verification comes from Allen Sanborn’s Catalogue of the Cicadoidea (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha).

September 24, 2018

Zammara intricata Walker, 1850

Zammara intricata Walker, 1850 (in case you’re wondering “Walker” is the person who first described this cicada, and 1850 was the year he described it) is another beautiful cicada belonging to the Zammara genus. Zammara cicadas are known for their prominent pronotal collars that inspire thoughts of Dracula the vampire, their brilliant green to turquoise colors, and infuscation (the dark areas) on their wings. Zammara intricata has a lot of infuscation in their wings, even for a Zammara. Intricata means “complex”, which might be a reference to the complexity of the infuscation.

It is found in Puerto Rico.

Scientific classification:
Family: Cicadidae
Sub Family: Cicadinae
Tribe: Zammarini
Genus: Zammara
Species: Zammara intricata Walker, 1850

Zammara intricata Walker, 1850

Zammara Amyot & Serville genus description by W. L. Distant:

Characters. — Head (including eyes) about as wide as base of mesonotum, ocelli farther removed from eyes than from each other, eyes prominent but scarcely projecting beyond the anterior pronotal angles, vertex strongly depressed before base of front; face longer than broad, narrowly sulcate; pronotum shorter than mesonotum, the lateral margins angularly ampliate; mesonotum about as long as head and pronotum together; metanotum exposed; abdomen short; tympanal coverings outwardly complete, the orifices very widely exposed internall} – ; opercula short, oblique; rostrum reaching or slightly passing the posterior coxae; tegmina usually three times as long as broad, apical areas eight; wings with six apical areas.

References:

  1. 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.
  2. Species name information/verification comes from Allen Sanborn’s Catalogue of the Cicadoidea (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha).

September 22, 2018

Hemisciera maculipennis (de Laporte, 1832)

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).

Scientific classification:
Family: Cicadidae
Subfamily: Cicadinae
Tribe: Fidicinini
Sub Tribe: Guyana
Genus: Hemisciera
Species: Hemisciera maculipennis (de Laporte, 1832)

And, since 1914 at least, its name has not changed.

Hemisciera maculipennis (de Laporte, 1832)

A specimen from the Staten Island Museum:
Stop and Go

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.

References:

  1. 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.
  2. Species name information/verification comes from Allen Sanborn’s Catalogue of the Cicadoidea (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha).
  3. Tribe information comes from: MARSHALL, DAVID C. et al.A molecular phylogeny of the cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) with a review of tribe and subfamily classification.Zootaxa, [S.l.], v. 4424, n. 1, p. 1—64, may 2018. ISSN 1175-5334. Available at: https://www.biotaxa.org/Zootaxa/article/view/zootaxa.4424.1.1

September 18, 2018

Coffee and Cicadas

Filed under: Agriculture | Brazil | Fidicinoides | Ovipositing | Quesada — Dan @ 8:51 pm

Instarbucks

When I think of cicadas I rarely think of them as an agricultural pest, mostly because I’m located in the U.S. where they’re not quite a menace to agriculture as other creatures can be, like aphids or the dreaded, invasive Spotted Lanternfly. Periodical cicadas can be a pest to fruit trees1 — tip: don’t plant an orchard where periodical cicadas live. Whenever there is an emergence of periodical cicadas some of the weaker, ornamental, or fruit trees will be lost to damage from ovipositing (egg-laying). In these cases, the cicadas are impacting non-native trees introduced into America — apples, pears, and peaches are originally from Asia — and these trees did not evolve to withstand cicadas and their root-sucking, egg-laying ways. I. “Cicada lawyer” recommends that I don’t give too much advice in this area.

Cicada Lawyer
Cicada Laywer says “don’t give advice you aren’t willing to back up in court, and we need to discuss your ‘Instarbucks logo’.”

Outside the U.S., cicadas can have more of an impact on agriculture. In Australia, the Brown sugarcane cicada (Cicadetta crucifera), Green cicada (C. multifascia), and Yellow sugarcane cicada (Parnkalla muelleri) suck on sugar plant roots when they’re nymphs, which can cause poor or failed ratoons2. Also in Australia, the Bladder Cicada is said to cause severe damage to olive trees when they oviposit (lay eggs in branches)3.

I was researching the cicadas of Brazil, trying to ID a cicada someone emailed me. One thing I noticed was a lot of papers about cicadas mention coffee (cafeeiro). Papers have names like, “Description and key to the fifth-instars of some Cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) associated with coffee plants in Brazil”4, or “Description of new cicada species associated with the coffee plant and an identification key for the species of Fidicinoides (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) from Brazil”5. These documents often contain wonderful cicada information, illustrations, and photos, just the sort of stuff I’m looking for.

Coffee and cicadas. Cafeeiro e cigarras. This association piqued my interest because I am both a huge fan of cicadas and coffee. Both are addictions, and if I tried to quit either, it would be painful (I’ve tried — lots of headaches). I enjoy cicadas as a hobby, and coffee as a stimulant and treat. I’ve even thought of opening a cafe called “Instarbucks” (that is a joke for entomologists).

Unfortunately, the association between coffee and cicadas is that cicadas are pests of the coffee plant. As nymphs, they suck the xylem roots of the coffee plant, and may occasionally cause damage4. Of course, coffee farms will be none too pleased about possible damage to their cash crops, so a lot of research goes into cicadas and their relationship to the coffee plant. Coffee is not native to Brazil, it originates from Ethiopia, and so it’s another non-native species of plant, grown for agricultural reasons, that is impacted by a native species of cicada. I’m sensing a pattern here. The unfortunate (for cicadas) reality is that folks will use information about the cicadas to control them, rather than risk damage to their coffee crops.

I’ll use the rest of this article to discuss coffee + cicada papers and some highlights within.

Description and key to the fifth-instars of some Cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) associated with coffee plants in Brazil4:

This paper is interesting as it describes and visually illustrates the physical characteristics of each instar (phase) of the cicadas development during their nymph stage. It covers these cicadas: Dorisiana drewseni (Stål) Dorisiana viridis (Olivier), Fidicina mannifera (Fabricius), Fidicinoides pronoe (Walker) and Carineta fasciculata (Germar). Related to coffee, these researchers are providing the knowledge that allows folks to identify fifth-instar nymphs, for the purpose of determining the extent of a plant’s cicada infestation4.

Oviposition of Quesada gigas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) in coffee plants.6:

This paper describes and visually illustrates the ovipositing behavior of Quesada gigas (the Giant Cicada). Related to coffee — other than the fact that Q. gigas will lay their eggs in the coffee’s tree branches — this paper provides ideas for preventing the egg-laying behavior, such as the removal of dry branches from “the upper third of the coffee plant, which is the preferred egg-laying location”6.

Nice photo of the bearly 2mm long cicada eggs — very small for a very large cicada.

Description of the Nymphs of Quesada gigas (Olivier) (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) Associated with Coffee Plants6:

Unfortunately, I cannot read Portuguese, so I cannot read this article. That said, the illustrations of the Quesada gigas nymphs (ninfas) contained within are wonderful.

Description of new cicada species associated with the coffee plant and an identification key for the species of Fidicinoides (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) from Brazil7:

This paper describes a new cicada, Fidicinoides sarutaiensis Santos, Martinelli & Maccagnan sp. n, and provides information, illustrations and photos to help identify this cicada and others belonging to the genus Fidicinoides, including F. opalina, F. sericans, F. pauliensis, F. picea, F. pronoe, F. distanti, F. brisa, F. rosabasalae, F. brunnea, F. besti, F. sucinalae, F. saccifera, F. jauffretti, and F. pseudethelae. Related to coffee, these cicadas feed on the xylem roots of coffee plants.7

This paper includes wonderful photos of key parts of these cicadas’ anatomy, which is very helpful for identifying them.

Instarbucks

There are many more papers about cicadas that appreciate coffee plants as much as you do. I’ll leave it up to you to research further.

If I had to choose, I’d choose cicadas over coffee. Which would you choose?

Sources:

  1. Tree Fruit Insect Pest – Periodical Cicada
  2. Peter Samson, Nader Sallam, Keith Chandler. (2013). Pests of Australian Sugarcane.
  3. Spooner-Hart, Robert & Tesoriero, L & Hall, Barbara. (2018). Field Guide to Olive Pests, Diseases and Disorders in Australia.
  4. DMACCAGNAN, DHB and MARTINELLI, NM. Description and key to the fifth-instars of some Cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) associated with coffee plants in Brazil. Neotrop. entomol. [online]. 2011, vol.40, n.4 [cited 2018-09-18], pp.445-451. Available from: http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1519-566X2011000400006&lng=en&nrm=iso. ISSN 1519-566X. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1519-566X2011000400006.
  5. Santos RS, Martinelli NM, Maccagnan DHB, Sanborn AF, Ribeiro R (2010) Description of new cicada species associated with the coffee plant and an identification key for the species of Fidicinoides (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) from Brazil. Zootaxa, 2602: 48-56.
  6. DECARO JUNIOR, SERGIO T; MARTINELLI, NILZA M; MACCAGNAN, DOUGLAS H. B. and RIBEIRO, EDUARDO S.. Oviposition of Quesada gigas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) in coffee plants. Rev. Colomb. Entomol. [online]. 2012, vol.38, n.1 [cited 2018-09-18], pp.1-5. Available from: http://www.scielo.org.co/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0120-04882012000100001&lng=en&nrm=iso. ISSN 0120-0488.
  7. DHB Maccagnan, NM Martinelli. Descrição das ninfas de Quesada gigas (Olivier)(Hemiptera: Cicadidae) associadas ao cafeeiro. Neotropical Entomology, 2004 – SciELO Brasil.
  8. SANTOS RS, MARTINELLI NM, MACCAGNAN DHB, SANBORN AF,RIBEIRO R. Description of new cicada species associated with the coffee plant and an identification key for the species of Fidicinoides (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) from Brazil. Zootaxa, 2010.

September 7, 2018

Cicadas by Continent & Country

Filed under: Genera | Locations — Dan @ 6:54 pm

A variety of cicadas

There are over 3,390 species of cicadas in the world1. The species on this site represent a fraction of those. Start your journey by choosing a regional link below.

U.S and Canada specific:

1 The Catalogue of the Cicadoidea (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha) by Allen F Sanborn. Academic Press. 14th November 2013.

September 3, 2018

Looking for adult cicadas at night

Filed under: Community 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:
Neotibicen auletes nymph

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.

August 26, 2018

Tips for making a time-lapse video of a cicada molting

Filed under: Community Science | Molting | Neotibicen — Tags: — Dan @ 8:51 am

Molting Morning Cicada

Time-lapse videos of insects molting can be as visually fascinating as they are scientifically important. Cicadas are amongst the best insect subjects for time-lapse because they’re relatively large, and depending on where you live, easy to find.

Equipment you’ll need for your time-lapse video:

  1. Lights. I use cheap LED and fluorescent lights. Not enough light and you’ll end up with a grainy video. Too much light and you’ll over-expose the subject and miss some important details. You’ll need a stand or tripod for your lights as well.
  2. A tripod for your camera. You want your camera to be as steady as possible. Hand-holding the camera is not recommended. The molting process takes hours.
  3. A camera. Some cameras have a Time-Lapse mode, but you could also take a photo every 30 seconds or so and use software to assemble the photos into a video. A camera with a large view screen is recommended so you can make adjustments to the lighting and framing of the insect.
  4. A platform for your cicada/insect. If you film outside use the tree the insect decides to molt on. If you film inside, build a structure using tree branches, or other materials the nymph can anchor onto.
  5. Video editing software. Free software works fine, as long as it lets you compile a series of photos into a single video.

I made my own platform out of some driftwood and a 2×4 I had lying around. Cheap but effective. Cicadas need to hang perpendicular to the ground so their wings will properly expand, so your creation needs to allow for that. A lot of people simply use a roll of paper towel.

Rig for Filming cicadas

Skills you’ll need to practice

  1. Patience. Unless you’re a pro who films wildlife all the time, you might need a few tries to get it right.
  2. Learn how to use the Time-Lapse feature of your camera.
  3. Learn how to light a small subject like a cicada.
  4. The ability to stay up late. The entire molting process can take up to 5-6 hours, especially if you want to let the cicada’s wings and body harden a bit. Coffee or tea helps (you, not the cicada).

If you’ve never tried filming a cicada molting before, you can practice lighting, focusing and using the time-lapse features of your camera with a paper model of a cicada. Just draw a cicada onto a small piece of paper, and pin it to a tree. If you know origami, even better.

Finding a specimen

I begin looking for cicada nymphs about 15 minutes after sunset. I find them at the base of trees, or ascending tree trunks. If you plan on filming indoors, or on a custom platform, treat the cicada with care. Be very gentle, and place the cicada nymph in a spacious enclosure — preferably one that allows it to grip, and hang off the side. I transport cicadas in a pop-up butterfly pavilion/habitat — these portable enclosures are made for butterflies, but they work well for other insects, like cicadas. Don’t forget to release the cicada the following day as well.

The overall process for shooting indoors

  1. Set up your rig: platform, lights, camera. Make sure your camera has an empty memory card in it and is charged/plugged in. Make sure all the lights are working. Place a towel or something soft at the base of the platform, in case the cicada falls (it happens).
  2. Collect your specimen. Bring a flashlight and a butterfly pavilion (or similar container). Gently grab the cicada nymph with your fingers and place in the container. do not collect a cicada that has already begun molting. Take some (not a lot) of tree branches with you. You can use the branches to augment your platform.
  3. Place the cicada at the base of the platform. Let it explore and become comfortable. Place it back at the base of the platform if it falls or wanders off.
  4. Once the cicada is ready to molt, it will stay still for a while. This is a good time to get your camera in focus and lights in the right position.
  5. The skin of the back of the nymph will split — look and listen for that. Start time-lapse filming. Example.
  6. Re-frame the camera as necessary to capture the cicada’s wings as they inflate.
  7. An hour after the cicada’s wings move into place (see that happen), you can stop filming, and place the cicada into the safety of the butterfly pavilion — or on a tree outside.
  8. Return the cicada to the outdoors within 12 hours.
  9. Use video editing software to compile the time-lapse frames into a video. I set each frame to 0.2 seconds — experiment with the times.
  10. Add the species of the cicada, the location where you found it, and other comments to the video.
  11. Share your video with friends, family and the world.

More tips:

  • The process takes a long time — you might be up until 1 or 2 am in the morning. Be prepared for that.
  • Film some non-time-lapse video as well. There are key moments during the molting process that happen quickly, like when the cicada pulls its abdomen from its old skin. Having a video of that is nice.
  • Be prepared to adjust the framing and focus a few times during the shoot. Don’t adjust too much though — just if the cicada’s wings fall out of frame.
  • The cicada will double its overall size. Its wings will hang downward. Be prepared for that when you frame the shot.

Some results:

My latest time-lapse video:

Notice how I frame the video.

A non-time-lapse detail:

A video where I used a tree branch to make the molting look more natural

August 23, 2018

Cordyceps infected Citrus Cicadas

Filed under: Cordyceps | Diceroprocta — Tags: — Dan @ 9:44 am

Here’s another fungi story coming from the WVU Kasson Lab: Cordyceps infected Citrus Cicadas (Diceroprocta apache).

The story goes like this: because of Ed Yong’s article about the Massospora fungus that infects cicadas, someone sent the Kasson Lab photos, and then samples, of Diceroprocta apache (Citrus Cicadas) infected with a different type of fungus: Cordyceps. Looks like the lab is going to study this fungus, and I’m sure they’ll produce a paper.

August 6, 2018

Megatibicen resh aka the Resh Cicada

Filed under: Cryptotympanini | Megatibicen | United States — Tags: — Dan @ 6:51 am

Megatibicen resh (formerly Neotibicen resh and Tibicen resh) is commonly known as the Resh Cicada because the markings on its back resemble the Hebrew symbol Resh “ר”. The Resh Cicada has been documented to be found in Arkansas, Kansas, Lousiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennesee, and Texas.

Most people will discover them by finding their exuvia (shed skins, “shells”) on trees, or by their striking calls at sunset. I first encountered this cicada in Dallas, Texas near Pioneer Plaza (cattle sculptures). First I found the exuvia on oak trees (I needed a 3′ stick added to my 8′ reach to knock them down), and then at sunset I heard their call (which I mistook for M. auletes (which is not in Texas)). Listen to their song.

It is one of the smaller Megatibicen — maybe only M. dealbatus is smaller. Compare sizes using this image by Kathy Hill. Its compound eyes are gray-beige, with a black “mask” between the eyes, and its simple eyes are pink. Its ventral side is white and caramel colored. Its dorsal side is dominated by a light green color, with black, brown and white — forming a symmetrical camouflage pattern — which helps to hide the cicada in its arboreal habitat. Recently molted, golden pruinose shimmers on its head, pronotum, mesonotum, and abdomen.

Megatibicen resh molting adult

During the molting process, up until the cicada’s body sclerotizes (hardens), the cicada’s body is leaf-green (camouflaged like a hanging leaf).

Megatibicen resh spreading wings 2

The exuvia of the Resh cicada is large and easy to spot, even high up in trees. Even though molted adults are closer in size to N. tibicen than M. auletes, the exuvia of M. resh is comparable to M. auletes, which is the largest cicada in North America.

Resh Auletes and Tibicen

More photos from this series: Megatibicen resh gallery.

July 31, 2018

New paper: The periodical cicada four-year acceleration hypothesis revisited and the polyphyletic nature of Brood V

A new paper about periodical cicadas! View it: https://peerj.com/articles/5282/

“The periodical cicada four-year acceleration hypothesis revisited and the polyphyletic nature of Brood V, including an updated crowd-source enhanced map (Hemiptera: Cicadidae: Magicicada)”

Authors: John R. Cooley​, Nidia Arguedas, Elias Bonaros, Gerry Bunker, Stephen M. Chiswell, Annette DeGiovine, Marten Edwards, Diane Hassanieh, Diler Haji, John Knox, Gene Kritsky, Carolyn Mills, Dan Mozgai, Roy Troutman, John Zyla, Hiroki Hasegawa, Teiji Sota, Jin Yoshimura, and Chris Simon.

Abstract:

The periodical cicadas of North America (Magicicada spp.) are well-known for their long life cycles of 13 and 17 years and their mass synchronized emergences. Although periodical cicada life cycles are relatively strict, the biogeographic patterns of periodical cicada broods, or year-classes, indicate that they must undergo some degree of life cycle switching. We present a new map of periodical cicada Brood V, which emerged in 2016, and demonstrate that it consists of at least four distinct parts that span an area in the United States stretching from Ohio to Long Island. We discuss mtDNA haplotype variation in this brood in relation to other periodical cicada broods, noting that different parts of this brood appear to have different origins. We use this information to refine a hypothesis for the formation of periodical cicada broods by 1- and 4-year life cycle jumps.

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