Cicada Mania

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Genera of cicadas.

September 30, 2018

Polyneura ducalis Westwood, 1840

Polyneura ducalis Westwood, 1840, is found in China, Tibet, Indonesia, Burma, Nepal, India, and likely more nations in the region.

Scientific classification:
Family: Cicadidae
Subfamily: Cicadinae
Tribe: Polyneurini
SubTribe: Polyneurina
Genus: Polyneura
Species: Polyneurina ducalis Westwood, 1840

Polyneura ducalis Westwood, 1840

Polyneura genus description by W. L. Distant:

Characters. — Head including eyes about as wide as base of mesonotum, but narrower than pronotum, ocelli further apart from eyes than from each other, front obliquely depressed; pronotum longer than mesonotum, its lateral margins ampliated and medially shortly angulate; abdomen longer than space between apex of head and base of cruciform elevation; tympanal orifices completely covered; opercula short and broad; meso- and metasterna centrality sulcate; tegmina opaque with the venation dense and furcate, reticulate towards apex, all the areas numerous and ill-defined.

Photo from my collection:

Polyneura ducalis

References:

  1. The illustration and genus description comes from the journal Genera Insectorum, and a specific article from 1913 by W. L. Distant titled Homoptera. Fam. Cicadidae, Subfam, Cicadinae. Read it on the Biodiversity Heritage Library website.
  2. Species name information/verification comes from Allen Sanborn’s Catalogue of the Cicadoidea (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha).

Muansa clypealis (Karsch, 1890)

Filed under: Cameroon | CAR | DRC | Ferdinand Karsch | Genera Insectorum | Muansa | Nigeria | Zaire — Dan @ 4:54 am

Muansa clypealis (Karsch, 1890) is a visually amazing cicada, with a remarkable angular pronotal collar and almost butterfly-like wing inclusions. It is found in Sub-Saharan Africa/West Africa, including the countries Cameroon, The Central African Republic, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, and Zaire.

Scientific classification:
Family: Cicadidae
Subfamily: Cicadinae
Tribe: Platypleurini
Genus: Muansa
Species: Muansa clypealis (Karsch, 1890)

Muansa clypealis (Karsch, 1890)

A Muansa Distant genus description by W. L. Distant:

Characters. — Head (including eyes) slightly wider than base of mesonotum, not truncate anteriorly, but frontally produced, about as long as pronotum (excluding its posterior margin); pronotum transverse, its posterior margin little more than half the length of vertex, the lateral margins strongly and angularly produced, angular apices reaching to about middle of basal cell of tegmina; mesonotum a little longer than pronotum; anterior femora with one or more distinct spines, posterior tibiae with a few slender spines on apical areas; metasternum elevated and centrally sulcated ; tympana practically covered; opercula short, broad, their apices more or less convexly rounded; rostrum reaching the posterior coxae; tegmina with the basal cell broad, ulnar veins well separated at their bases

References:

  1. The illustration and genus description comes from the journal Genera Insectorum, and a specific article from 1913 by W. L. Distant titled Homoptera. Fam. Cicadidae, Subfam, Cicadinae. 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 28, 2018

Ambragaeana stellata (Walker, 1858)

Filed under: Ambragaeana | China | Francis Walker | Genera Insectorum | India | Thailand — Dan @ 6:54 pm

Once known as Gaeana stellatayes, its name has changedAmbragaeana stellata (Walker, 1858) can be found in China, Thailand, India, and likey other nations the south-eastern part of Asia. Ambragaeana cicadas belong to a group nicknamed the “butterfly cicadas” because of the butterfly-like colors and patterns of their wings.

“Stellata”, I believe, is derived from the Latin word for “star” — it doesn’t take much imagination to see the “stars” in the wings of this cicada.

Scientific classification:
Family: Cicadidae
Subfamily: Cicadinae
Tribe: Gaeanini
SubTribe: Gaeanina
Genus: Ambragaeana
Species: Ambragaeana stellata (Walker, 1858)

Ambragaeana stellata stellata (Walker, 1858)
The image says Gaeana stellata, but the newest name for this cicada is Ambragaeana stellata.

photo by Michel Chantraine
Photo by Michel Chantraine.

Worth noting: There are two sub-species of Ambragaeana.

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 26, 2018

Odopoea degiacomii Distant, 1912

Filed under: Dominican Republic | Genera Insectorum | Odopoea | W. L. Distant — Dan @ 5:07 pm

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

Filed under: Francis Walker | Genera Insectorum | Puerto Rico | Zammara — Dan @ 3:28 pm

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)

Filed under: Brazil | Ecuador | Genera Insectorum | Hemisciera | W. L. Distant — Dan @ 3:04 pm

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: 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 In the U.S.A, Canada, World-Wide, by Genus and Tribe

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

Photos of Cicadas Around the World

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 guides:

North American Cicada pages that feature cicada calls:

Cicada Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct
Beameria venosa aka Aridland Cicada May Jun Jul Aug
Beameria wheeleri May Jun Jul
Cacama valvata aka Common Cactus Dodger May Jun
Cicadettana calliope calliope aka Southern Grass Cicada Jun Jul Aug
Cicadettana camerona May Jun
Cicadettana kansa May Jun
Cicadettana texana May Jun
Clidophleps vagans Jun
Cornuplura nigroalbata
Cornuplura rudis May Jun Jul
Diceroprocta apache aka Citrus Cicada Jun Jul Aug Sep
Diceroprocta arizona
Diceroprocta aurantiaca Jun
Diceroprocta averyi
Diceroprocta azteca aka Scrub Cicada Jul Aug
Diceroprocta bequaerti
Diceroprocta biconica
Diceroprocta bicosta
Diceroprocta crucifera
Diceroprocta eugraphica Jun Jul
Diceroprocta knighti Jun Jul
Diceroprocta marevagans Jul Aug Sep
Diceroprocta olympusa aka Olympic Scrub Cicada Jun Jul
Diceroprocta ornea
Diceroprocta psophis
Diceroprocta ruatana
Diceroprocta semicincta Jun Jul
Diceroprocta swalei swalei Jun
Diceroprocta texana Jun Jul Aug
Diceroprocta vitripennis aka Green Winged Cicada Jun Jul Aug
Hadoa bifida May Jun Jul
Hadoa chiricahua May Jun Jul Aug
Hadoa duryi May Jun Jul Aug
Hadoa inaudita Jun Jul Aug
Hadoa longiopercula
Hadoa parallela Jul Aug Sep
Hadoa simplex May Jun
Hadoa texana Jun Jul Aug Sep
Hadoa townsendii May Jun
Magicicada cassinii aka Cassini 17-Year Cicada* May Jun
Magicicada neotredecim* May Jun
Magicicada septendecim aka Linnaeus’s 17-Year Cicada* May Jun
Magicicada septendecula* May Jun
Magicicada tredecassini* May Jun
Magicicada tredecim* May Jun
Magicicada tredecula* May Jun
Megatibicen grossus aka Northern Dusk Singing Cicada Jul Aug Sep Oct
Megatibicen cultriformis aka Grand Western Flood Plain Cicada Aug Sep Oct
Megatibicen dealbatus aka Plains Cicada Jul Aug Sep
Megatibicen dorsatus aka Giant Grassland Cicada Jul Aug Sep
Megatibicen figuratus aka Fall Southeastern Dusk-singing Cicada Aug Sep Oct
Megatibicen harenosus Aug Sep
Megatibicen pronotalis pronotalis Aug Sep Oct
Megatibicen pronotalis walkeri aka Walker’s Cicada Aug Sep Oct
Megatibicen resh aka Resh Cicada Jul Aug Sep
Megatibicen resonans aka Southern Resonant Cicada Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct
Megatibicen tremulus aka Cole’s Bush Cicada Jun Jul Aug Sep
Neocicada chisos Apr May
Neocicada hieroglyphica aka Hieroglyphic Cicada May Jun Jul Aug
Neocicada hieroglyphica johannis May Jun Jul
Neoplatypedia constricta May Jun Jul
Neotibicen auriferus aka Plains Dog-day Cicada Aug Sep
Neotibicen canicularis aka Dog-day Cicada Jul Aug Sep
Neotibicen davisi aka Davis’ Southeastern Dog-Day Cicada Aug Sep Oct
Neotibicen latifasciatus aka Coastal Scissors Grinder Cicada Jul Aug Sep Oct
Neotibicen linnei aka Linne’s Cicada Jul Aug Sep
Neotibicen lyricen engelhardti aka Dark Lyric Cicada Jul Aug Sep
Neotibicen lyricen lyricen aka Lyric Cicada Jun Jul Aug
Neotibicen lyricen virescens aka Costal Lyric Cicada Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct
Neotibicen pruinosus pruinosus aka Scissors Grinder Jul Aug Sep Oct
Neotibicen robinsonianus aka Robinson’s Cicada Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct
Neotibicen similaris apalachicola Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct
Neotibicen similaris similaris aka Similar Dog-Day Cicada Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct
Neotibicen superbus aka Superb Dog-Day Cicada Jun Jul Aug
Neotibicen tibicen australis aka Southern Swamp Cicada Jun Jul Aug Sep
Neotibicen tibicen tibicen aka Morning Cicada Jun Jul Aug Sep
Neotibicen winnemanna aka Eastern Scissors Grinder Jun Jul Aug
Okanagana balli** Jun Jul
Okanagana bella aka Mountain Cicada** Jun Jul
Okanagana canadensis aka Canadian Cicada** Jun Jul
Okanagana fumipennis** May Jun Jul
Okanagana hesperia** Jun Jul
Okanagana rimosa rimosa aka Say’s Cicada** May Jun Jul
Okanagana synodica synodica aka Walking Cicada** Jun Jul
Okanagana utahensis** May Jun Jul
Okanagana vanduzeei** Jun Jul
Okanagana viridis aka Cotton Green Cicada** Jun Jul
Pacarina puella aka Little Mesquite Cicada May Jun Jul
Platypedia putnami putnami** May Jun Jul
Platypedia similis** Apr May

*Magicicada are periodical cicadas, so you will only find them every 13 or 17 years.
** Okanagana and Platypedia are often proto-periodical, and do not appear every year, but they are not as predictable as periodical cicadas. Read Guessing at when the next Platypedia or Okanagana hatch will happen and Platypedia putnami survey at Horsetooth Mountain Open Space by Tim McNary.

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

2 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 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

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