Now is a great time to look and listen for Tibicen cicadas in North America. Tibicen are the medium to large sized annual cicadas. Typically they are well camouflaged – with colors like black, white, green & brown.
During the day you can listen for them, of course, and spot them that way. Try Insect Singers for cicada songs. You can also look for their exuvia (skins), and if you’re lucky you can catch on on a low branch.
Last night I started looking around 10pm and found three Swamp Cicadas (T. tibicen tibicen) shedding their skins on trees around the yard. I also collected about 30 exuvia (skins). All in a quarter acre yard. Take a look at this video:
Last night I went on an exploration of Manchester, NJ looking for Megatibicen auletes (Germar, 1834) with Elias Bonaros and his friend Annette.
M. auletes, are known as the Northern Dusk Singing Cicada. As their name suggests, M. auletes calls at dusk, around sunset. Their call is amazing – visit Insect Singers to hear their call.
Luckily I found a (deceased) female and an exuvia (nymph skin). Elias and Annette found many exuvia and a live nymph. We were able to watch the nymph undergo ecdysis (leave its exuvia, and expand its adult body).
Here are some images of the cicadas we found last night (click the first two images to get to larger versions):
Some (blurry) video:
Dan and Elias netting a M. auletes exuvia. Photo by Annette DeGiovine-Oliveira:
At this point in the 2013 Brood II emergence, all the cicadas that will emerge, have emerged. I’m sorry to say that if periodical cicadas have not emerged in your yard/neighborhood/town, they won’t. This is frustrating for people who heard that the cicadas would emerge in their state or those who looked at a brood map and assumed their neighborhood fell within the area shown on the map.
People in Pennsylvania, for example, heard that cicadas would arrive in their state, but unfortunately, the cicadas only occupy a small banana-shaped region in the east of the state:
If you look at one of the older maps for Brood II, it looks like the state of New Jersey is covered, however, each dot might represent only one sighing in one specific area. These old maps are useful, but they can be misleading (more on maps later in this article).
The truth is periodical cicadas do not occupy every square acre of a state in which they are expected to emerge. Even in towns where they do emerge, they are rarely present in every acre or block of those towns. Why? Well, either they were eliminated in the areas where they once were found (due to urban sprawl, pesticides, weather-related events, etc), or they simply were never there in the first place. New threats like extreme weather (flooding and tree destruction by tropical storms) and tree-destroying invasive species (like the emerald ash borer) will continue to shrink cicada habitat areas.
It is important, for future emergences, that the press/media and cicada websites provide more accurate information about the location of the cicadas. The cicada sighting information people provide to Cicadas @ UCONN (formerly Magicicada.org) is very important because it will lead to better maps and more accurate sighting information.
One thing I’m glad that I did this year was to provide a page that listed specific towns in New Jersey where cicadas could be expected. I wish I did one for every state in the Brood II area [but Cicada Mania is not my day job, and there are only so many hours in a day].
That said, we never want to discourage people from looking for periodical cicadas in areas we don’t expect them to exist. Last year unexpected Brood I cicadas emerged in Tennessee. This year periodical cicadas unexpectedly emerged in Oklahoma. A lot of us were hoping cicadas would show up in Central Park in Manhattan, but they didn’t (however, I didn’t personally walk every acre of the park).
So, what can you do to help?
If you’re a member of the press/media (yes that includes bloggers and tweeters), make sure you get precise locations from cicada experts.
Help preserve the current cicada habitat. Preserve trees. Avoid pesticides. Don’t wipe out another forest to add yet another redundant giant store.
A consolation for people who missed out on the 17 year cicadas: there are about 160 species of annual cicadas in North America. They’re usually harder to find and catch, but you can still hear and capture them if you put some time and effort into it.
At this point if you haven’t had a periodical cicada emerge in your yard/neighborhood/town, you won’t. The best last chance to see them would be in New York State along rte 9G, parts of 9 and 9J. The more northern, the better. I visited that area last weekend, and found some great spots.
Flagging (when leaves turn brown from cicada egg laying) can be seen in New Jersey and states south of there. Probably a little bit of Connecticut and New York as well.
People are noticing sap dripping from the scars left behind from cicada egg laying.
Next up will be the hatching of the eggs.
Don’t forget to report FLAGGING (brown leaves) sightings to Cicadas @ UCONN (formerly Magicicada.org) so they can add them to their live map. You can report flagging, as well as egg nests, and newly hatched nymphs.
Areas in southern states are no doubt in the clean up phase. Adults have stopped singing, and corpses litter the ground, while the eggs of the next generation are nestled in branches high up in trees.
This is what to expect here on out:
They stink — literally, not figuratively. Yeah, their rotting corpses stink, so you want to clean them up. A rake and shovel work. Some people use vacuums, which are effective, but your vacuums might inherit the smell of the cicadas.
The hatch — in about 6-8 weeks the eggs laid in tree branches will hatch and the 1st instar nymphs will fall to the ground (see “THE ECOLOGY, BEHAVIOR AND EVOLUTION OF PERIODICAL CICADAS” by Kathy S. Williams and Chris Simon). The fall doesn’t hurt them because they have a low terminal velocity. Wear a hat in August. At this point they quickly dig into the soil, and start feeding on roots — small grass roots at first, and larger roots as they get larger. Chances are you won’t even notice them. Sadly, about 98% of them die in the first two years. Just imagine if they all survived — 5000% more cicadas!
The birds will come back — birds and other critters often leave a neighborhood during a cicada emergence. Either they get their fill of eating the cicadas, they can’t hear each other over the over-powering call of the cicadas, or they find it hard to navigate the sky and trees with all the cicadas around. What ever the case, birds and other animals will return to your neighborhood once the cicadas die off. Do not worry.
It’s been nearly 2 weeks since my last update, but I’ve been busy — traveling around looking and listening for cicadas. I have literally 100s of photos and videos, and information to update the site with. Lots of info to come.
Status of the emergence:
– Cicadas in North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland should be post-peak. Singing, mating, laying eggs, but mostly dying. New Jersey is at it’s peak — mostly singing, mating and laying eggs. Pensy, Staten Island and the rest of New York have cicadas in all phases, but they should still have some emerging nymphs to check out. If you want to watch nymphs emerging at this point, Connecticut is the place to go.
Locations I’ve visited and heard or saw cicadas:
New Jersey: Metuchen, Edison, Iselin, Colonia, Woodbridge, Westfield, Fanwood, Summit, Scotch Plains, Clark, Watchung…
Staten Island: most parks in southern SI, like Wolfe’s Pong Park (the cicadas survived Sandy) and Bloomingdale Park. Lots along Drumgoole road.
Locations other people reported:
– Meriden, CT
– Berkeley Heights NJ
– Flat Rock Brood Nature Center www.flatrockbrook.org in NJ
– Lewis Morris Park, Convent Station, Madison and Morris Township in NJ
– Maplewood in Essex County, NJ
– Millburn, NJ (South Mountain Reservation)
– Mountainside, NJ
– Plainfield, NJ
– Upper Montclair, NJ
– West Milford, NJ
– Cornwall-On Hudson, NY
– Red Hook, NY
– Glen Allen, VA
– Manassas Battlefield Park in VA
– Woodbridge VA
See the live map for the lastest 500 locations reported to Magiciada.org.
Where they’re not (sorry):
– DC (they’re south west of DC).
– Most counties in New Jersey south of Middlesex (with some exceptions).
– Most of Pensy
May 24th Update
Cold days ahead until Tuesday for the Brood II cicadas, at least in the northern states. Temperatures below 57 F/14 C will put the insects into a state of torpor, making them easy prey for critters. The rain and wind doesn’t help either. Read: “Adaptation of the Thermal Responses of Insects” by James E. Heath; James L. Hanegan; Peter J. Wilkin; Maxine Shoemaker Heath.
Some positive news: Cicadas @ UCONN (formerly Magicicada.org) has declared a pocket of Brood II in Georgia. Time to update the brood charts!
May 23rd Update
I heard chorusing for the first time in Metuchen, NJ today.
+ Berkeley Heights, NJ (thx Lucinda)
+ Finneytown Ohio (thx Roy) (technically not Brood II)
Cicadas are starting to emerge throughout New Jersey. Westfield, Iselin and Metuchen are visually confirmed. I will assume that they have started to emerge in Staten Island as well because of the relative proximity of Staten Island and Jersey.
Cicadas have started chorusing in North Garden, VA.
Visual confirmation of the emergence in:
Lake Ridge, VA
Yadkin County, NC
Update (5/9): cicadas have emerged in North Carolina, Virgina (see a photo) and Maryland (read a tweet) so far. Nymphs are active in New Jersey according to Magicicada and my sister’s chihuahua:
Update (5/2): cicadas have emerged in Guilford County and Stokes County North Carolina.
Over on the Entomology-Cicadidae cicada group a gentleman named Tommy Joseph has posted photos of periodical cicadas which have emerged this week in Greensboro, North Carolina This makes sense as North Carolina is the southern-most state with a Brood II population, and southern states warm up before northern states.
The Simon Lab is dedicated to the study of cicadas, in particular, periodical cicadas.
One of the things they study is the development of cicada nymphs while they are underground.
They need your help to collect cicada nymph specimens. You would dig for them, and if you find them, mail them to the Simon Lab. The nymphs will be used for valuable scientific study, so the loss of a few from your yard will not be in vain.
If you are interested in participating in cicada nymph research, visit The Simon Lab Nymph Tracking Project page for more information. You must have had periodical cicadas on your property in past 13 or 17 years to find the nymphs — not including the Brood II area, since those nymphs came out of the ground this year.
If you want to see and hear the Brood II cicadas, play hookey this week, and head on up the Hudson Valley in New York State. DO IT! It’s your last chance until 2030 (unless you want to see Brood III and XXII next year).
Today I took an eight-hour road trip along the Hudson River in NY. I hit Palisades Interstate Park, Bear Mountain, Cold Springs, virtually every town along Rte 9G and 199, Germantown, Hudson, and Woodstock.
Cold Spring and Woodstock were a little disappointing, though their downtowns seemed like nice places to visit (no time for human fun when you’re tracking cicadas). The east side of the Hudson River was definitely more active than the west side, although I did hear cicada choruses along Interstate 87 between exit 18 and 16.
Here are my favorite locations. The first one is pure gold.
A rest stop for cars. Rhinebeck NY 12572
Loads of ‘decims and cassini. Cassini could be picked off the low lying trees like grapes. ‘Decims hugged trees by the 100’s. Best spot of the day.
130 Main street by the river. Germantown, NY 12526
Cassini and decim choruses. Decims and cassini on low vegetation.
400 New York 308 Rhinebeck, NY 12572
Cassini and decim choruses. Decims in low lying trees.
Dutchess Mall, ironically near a big box hardware store that will remain nameless Fishkill, NY
Cassini and ‘decim choruses. ‘Decims in low lying trees. Very active and feisty.
Tiorati Brook Rd Stony Point, NY 10980
‘Decim choruses. ‘Decims in low lying trees.
Some video and audio from the New York emergence:
Periodical cicadas at a rest stop in Rhinebeck NY:
Magicicada septendecim in Stony Point NY:
Magicicada cassini Court II and III NY Brood II 2013:
Jean-Francois Duval of Victoriaville, Québec wrote me back on April 15th looking for advice for where and when to observe the 2013 Brood II emergence. Where is easier than when. I recommended a park in Connecticut (closest state to Victoriaville, Québec) that is known to have Brood II cicadas. When was more difficult this year because of a cold and rainy spring; cold and rain delay emergences or make them difficult to appreaciate.
I’m happy to say Jean-Francois made it to Connecticut at the right time to see the cicadas. Here is a selection of his photos.
Periodical cicadas (Magicicada) are emerging in and around the Oklahoma City area, unexpectedly!
The Facebook page for this event posted that there are Oklahoma State University records of going back to 1996, 1979, 1962, and 1928, showing a 17 year pattern. There’s also some confusion between this “micro brood” [a term I’m using because I like beer] and Brood IV, because the Oklahoma M. cassini have orange stripes like an M. septendecula, and you can only tell them apart by their DNA (and their song, of course).
I checked the document Drew, W. A., F. L. Spangler and D. Molnar. 1974. Oklahoma Cicadidae (Homoptera). Proceedings of the Oklahoma Academy of Science. Stillwater. 54: 90-7. No specific mention of Oklahoma county.