Cicada Mania

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

Cicadas have three types of life cycles: annual, periodical, proto-periodical.

September 25, 2012

Understanding Broods Using Analogies

Filed under: Magicicada | Periodical — Dan @ 8:11 am

Next year (2013) Brood II periodical cicadas will emerge along the eastern coast of North America (see our brood chart for where). You might find yourself wondering, “what is a brood“.

Here is a explanation of broods from Cicadas @ UCONN (formerly Magicicada.org):

All periodical cicadas of the same life cycle type that emerge in a given year are known collectively as a single “brood” (or “year-class”). The resulting broods are designated by Roman numerals — there are 12 broods of 17-year cicadas (with the remaining five year-classes apparently containing no cicadas), and 3 broods of 13-year cicadas (with ten empty year-classes).

The concept of periodical cicada broods can be difficult to wrap your mind around, so I wanted to present some analogies to help folks understand what a brood is. Generally speaking, it is important to not anthropomorphize insects, but if it helps you understand what a brood is, we can let it slide…

The Family Reunion analogy

Imagine that each brood is a family, and that each family has a family reunion every 17 years. They also, always, celebrate in the same location.

The next Brood II “family reunion” happens in 2013; their last reunion happened in 1996; and their next reunion will happen in 2030. They always have their reunion in CT, MD, NC, NJ, NY, PA and VA — its their favorite restaurant.

The High School Reunion analogy

Imagine that each brood is a high school class, and that class has a reunion every 17 years. They also, always, celebrate in the same location.

The next Brood III “high school reunion” happens in 2014; their last reunion happened in 1997; and their next reunion will happen in 2031. They always have their reunion in IA, IL and MO — their favorite hometown pub.

The Wedding Anniversary analogy

Imagine that a brood is a married couple, and they celebrate their wedding anniversary every 17 years. (Caution: if you’re a human don’t try celebrating your wedding anniversary only every 17 years – you won’t have a happy marriage).

The next time couple Brood IV celebrates their anniversary is 2015; the last time they celebrated their wedding anniversary was 1998; they next time they will celebrate their wedding anniversary will be 2032. They always celebrate in IA, KS, MO, NE, OK and TX — the restaurant where they first met.

Stragglers

Stragglers are periodical cicadas that emerge in years prior to, or after they are expected to emerge — typically 4 years earlier. This male Magicicada should have emerged in 2013, but instead he emerged in 2009 – four years earlier than expected.

We can extend these analogies to cover straggling.

If a periodical cicada shows up four years early to his family or high school reunion, he is not going to have much fun, because few, if any other periodical cicadas will be around to celebrate with. If Mr. Magicicada shows up early or late for a wedding anniversary, he is definitely not going to have any fun.

I think the High School Reunion works best.

Feel free to submit any other analogies in the comments…

September 24, 2012

2012 Brood I Wrap-Up

Filed under: Brood I | Magicicada | Periodical — Dan @ 8:36 am

Brood I, a brood of 17-year Magicicada periodical cicadas, emerged in the spring of 2012 in western Virginia, a small part of eastern West Virginia, and (expected by some, unexpected by others) in the Tri-Cities area of Tennessee.

The emergence in Tennessee caught some (myself included) by surprise, because it is not on Brood I maps, but folks in the Tri-Cities area say they expected it. Brood I is known as the Blue Ridge Brood because it exists along the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Tri-Cities area of Tennessee falls within the Blue Ridge Mountains, so the nickname of the brood works for Tennessee as well. I’m sure that there will be debate as to whether the Tri-Cities cicadas belong in Brood 1; we’ll know for sure in 2029.

Brood I emerged earlier than expected due to unseasonably warm weather in Virginia. On April 23rd, Barbara Dekorsey reported the following on the Cicada Mania Facebook page: “My kids and I saw periodical cicadas emerging on Blue Ridge Parkway MP 114.9, at the Roanoke River Trailhead (Roanoke, VA). It was wet and cool, and many of them were dead or dying with poorly formed wings.” Unfortunately, the moment when many cicadas began to emerge, the weather switched, greeting cicadas with wet, windy, cold weather, which resulted in cicada deaths and deformities due to harsh weather. Plenty of cicadas emerged unscathed, though, so the brood will live on.

Brood I is a small, but interesting Brood.

More information:

August 13, 2012

A Neotibicen tibicen (chloromera) singing

Filed under: Annual | Neotibicen | Tibicen | Video — Tags: — Dan @ 7:41 am

The trees near where I work are chocked full of Tibicen tibicen cicadas (formerly known as T. chloromera, also known as Swamp cicadas).

Here is a short video featuring the call of a Tibicen tibicen that I recorded this morning:

Here’s a sound file of the cicada’s song…

August 12, 2012

Neotibicen canicularis – Dog Star Rising

Filed under: Annual | Neotibicen — Tags: , , — Dan @ 9:34 am

Mid-August is approaching, and the “Dog Days” of summer are almost here. Sirius (the Dog Star) and the constellation Canis Major will soon begin to appear in the early morning sky. Now is also the time that Tibicen canicularis, the Dog Day Day cicada, is also making its presence known in the U.S.A.

Edit: Dog-day cicadas (Neotibicen) are named for the time of year when the Dog-start Sirius first appears in the sky. Depending on where you are in the U.S., latitudinally speaking, Sirius should enter the pre-dawn sky between July 29th (Key West, FL) and August 15th (Bangor Maine) give or take a day.

This is a photo of a N. canicularis (Dog Day cicada) next to a T. davisi (Southern Dog Day cicada) by by Paul Krombholz:
Neotibicen davisi & canicularis by Paul Krombholz

N. canicularis has a green pronotal collar, green markings on its pronotum, and at least some, if not all, orange colors on its mesonotum (where the M is on the cicada’s back). N. canicularis sounds like (to me at least) a circular saw buzzing through a plank in wood in a neighbor’s garage.

Imagine that you are a farmer waking just before dawn and seeing the first signs of Sirius, the Dog Star, and then later in the day, hearing N. canicularis singing away in the trees surrounding your fields. Those two signs signal that summer is reaching its peak, and harvest will start soon enough.

N. canicularis can be found in the following states and provinces: AR, CT, DC, IL, IN, IA, KS, ME, MB, MD, MA, MI, MN, MO, NE, NB, NH, NJ, NY, NC, ND, NS, OH, ON, PA, PE, QC, RI, SC, SD, TN, VT, VA, WV, WI.

Here is a screen capture of the computer app Stellarium, with Canis Major and Sirius rising above the horizon before dawn.

Sirius rising

If you’re interested in stars, check out Stellarium. It is free.

Visit the Songs of Insects site for a nice photo and sound file of the Dog Day cicada. Also by their book Songs of Insects – it is inexpensive and comes with a CD.

August 5, 2012

Cicadas of Canada

Filed under: Annual | Canada — Dan @ 9:01 am

Someone recently asked which cicadas live in the Toronto area in Canada. Here are links to three such cicadas:

Okanagana canadensis (Canadian cicada)
http://bugguide.net/node/view/202488
http://www.musicofnature.org/songsofinsects/iframes/cicadas/popup_okancana.html

Okanagana rimosa (Say’s cicada)
http://bugguide.net/node/view/41209
http://www.musicofnature.org/songsofinsects/iframes/cicadas/popup_okanrimo.html

Tibicen canicularis (Dog-day cicada)
http://bugguide.net/node/view/12461
http://www.musicofnature.org/songsofinsects/iframes/cicadas/popup_tibicann.html

May 20, 2012

Ways to enjoy a periodical cicada emergence

Filed under: Magicicada | Periodical — Dan @ 12:30 am

Amazing things people do to celebrate a cicada emergence

cicada ice cream

Cicada Snacking. Probably the most unexpected thing people do during a periodical cicada emergence is eat them. Ice cream parlors have made cicada ice cream, pizza parlors have advertised cicada pizza, and people have created cicada recipe books. People and pets enjoy eating them; so do fish, so if you’re a fisherman, you can use them as bait. Would you eat a cicada? Maybe with BBQ Sauce?

Songs about cicadas. Over the years many artists have recorded songs about cicadas. There’s a music compilation called 17-Year Itch featuring songs about periodical cicadas…

… recently a musician called Dr. Chordate wrote a song called Periodic Cicadas. Would you write a song about a periodical cicada emergence?

Make some cicada arts and crafts. There are an amazing array of cicada arts and crafts for sale on Etsy, including jewelry, clothes, paintings, sculptures, and stationary. Would you make some cicada artwork? Would you sell it online? A lot of people have written books about cicadas. Would you write a poem, story, or an entire book about cicadas?

Cicada Activities

Report your cicada sightings to Cicadas @ UCONN (formerly Magicicada.org) so they can add your cicadas to their maps.

Don’t forget to photograph and video cicadas, and share them on Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, YouTube and Vimeo. Blog or Tweet about your cicada experiences, and don’t forget to let us know about your cicadas on Twitter @cicadamania or Facebook.

You can try one of these cicada experiments and projects including, searching for rare white or blue-eyed cicadas, documenting a cicada’s life cycle, or keeping a cicada in captivity.

You can color a cicada with crayons or markers (PDF), or just draw your own.

Don’t forget to collect some cicadas and cicada parts. You can preserve cicadas a number of ways. You can preserve them in Lucite for an interesting paper weight. You can pin and mount cicadas; here is a how to article for pinning cicadas. Cicada wings and nymph skins don’t need preservatives. I keep them in small, magnifying boxes:

cicada skins in a box


May 17, 2012

The 2012 Tennessee emergence

Filed under: Brood I | John Cooley | Magicicada | Periodical — Dan @ 12:09 pm

John Cooley of Cicadas @ UCONN (formerly Magicicada.org) (don’t forget to report your sightings) wrote to tell us about the large emergence of periodical cicadas in Tennessee. See the picture below taken by John in Warriors’ Path State Park, TN.

The mystery is defining which brood these cicadas belong to. Are they brood XIV stragglers; are they an undocumented pocket of Brood I cicadas; or are they cicadas that straggled long ago, but finally established a healthy population in synch with Brood I? For now, it’s a puzzle.

2012 Tennessee photo by John Cooley

See John’s map on Cicadas @ UCONN (formerly Magicicada.org) that documents the 2012 Tennessee cicadas.

Update: A similar emergence occurred in 1995 (17 years ago) in the Warriors’ Path State Park, TN area. This could be an undocumented area of Brood I cicadas.

May 11, 2012

Brood XIV decelleration observed by Roy Troutman

Filed under: Brood XIV | Magicicada | Periodical Stragglers | Roy Troutman — Dan @ 9:53 pm

Here’s something neat. Roy Troutman discovered some Brood XIV Magicicadas emerging 4 years late in Ohio. That’s a “21 year cicada”. 🙂

Here’s the photos:

A Brood XIV Magicicada straggler, emerged 4 years late. in 2012 photo by Roy Troutman.

A Brood XIV Magicicada straggler, emerged 4 years late. in 2012 photo by Roy Troutman.

A Brood XIV Magicicada straggler, emerged 4 years late. in 2012 photo by Roy Troutman.

Gene Kritsky observed a similar unexpected emergence in 1995. See “The Unexpected 1995 Emergence of Periodical Cicadas (Homoptera: Cicadidae: Magicicada spp.) in Ohio”, Gene Kritsky and Sue Simon, Department of Biology, College of Mount St. Joseph, Cincinnati, OH. (OHIO J. SCI. 96 (1): 27-28, 1996). An excerpt from the article:

an excerpt from the article

May 8, 2012

Look out for Brood II, Brood V and Brood XIX Stragglers

Filed under: Brood I | Brood II | Brood V | Brood XIX | Magicicada | Periodical | Periodical Stragglers — Dan @ 6:31 pm

When is a 2012 Magicicada not a Brood I cicada? When it’s a straggler.

A straggler is a periodical cicada that emerges in a year before or after the year they are supposed to emerge. Typically a straggler will emerge one or four years before, or one year after the year they should have emerged. Stragglers from Broods II (due 2013), Brood V (due 2016) and Brood XIX (backin 2011) are or will emerge this year in limited numbers.

Brood II is set to emerge next year in most of central Virginia (as well as CT, MD, NC, NJ, NY, PA), Brood V will emerge in four years in Virginia and West Virginia (as well as OH, PA), and Brood XIX emerged last year in a few areas of Virginia (as well as AL, AR, GA, IL, IN, KY, MO, MS, NC, OK, SC, TN).

Stragglers present a challenge for people tracking the Brood I emergence because Brood II, Brood V and Brood XIX stragglers will emerge in the same states as Brood I cicadas. Brood II and Brood V overlap Brood I in some places.

Here is a comparison of the I,II & V Broods. The black dots represent where the cicadas have emerged historically.

2012 periodical cicada stragglers

Here’s a map of Brood XIX in case you are curious:
Marlatt 1907 19 Brood XIX

Visit Cicadas @ UCONN (formerly Magicicada.org) for more information on this phenomena, and report your cicada sightings while you’re there. Credit goes to the Cicadas @ UCONN (formerly Magicicada.org)’s Facebook post that reminded me of the stragglers.

May 5, 2012

Six Cicada Experiments and Projects

Filed under: Community Science | Magicicada | Periodical | Video — Dan @ 4:18 am

Here are six cicada projects and experiments you can try during the coming Brood XIX 13-year periodical cicada emergence in America.

White eyed Magicicada by Dan from Cicada Mania on Vimeo.

Find a White or Blue Eyed Magicicada!

(Magicicada only)

White or Blue eyed Magicicada are very rare! Typically they have red or orange eyes. There was even an urban legend that scientists were offering a reward for white-eyed Magicicada (well, that was a legend, until Roy Troutman actually offered a reward in 2008). Aside from Blue or White-eyed Magicicada, you can find other colors like yellow eyes, and multicolored eyes.

Try this: Have a contest amongst your friends and family for who can find the most white, yellow and multicolor-eyed cicadas.


Wing Clicks

(Magicicada only)

How do you get a male cicada to sing? Imitate a female cicada. Female cicadas don’t sing, but they do click their wings together to get a male cicada’s attention.

Try this: snap your fingers near cicadas almost immediately (half-second) after a Male stops singing. Male cicadas will hear the snap and think it’s a female clicking her wings, and they may sing in response.

You can also try imitating male cicada calls to get the females to click their wings. Magicicada tredecim and Magicicada neotredecim are probably the easiest to imitate with their “Waaah Ooh”/”WeeOoh” calls. You can find sound files on the Cicadas @ UCONN (formerly Magicicada.org) site so you can practice.

Cicada Free-Styling

(Magicicada only)

One of the best ways to locate cicadas is to simply listen for them. When you’re driving or biking around town, take note of where you hear cicadas. If you hear cicadas in a public place, don’t we afraid to stop and observe them.

Try this: Travel around listening for cicadas, document their location and numbers, and report them to magicicada.org.

Tips:

  • Learn the songs of the periodical cicadas, and learn what they look like, including the different phases of development (nymph, teneral adult, adult) and species. Cicadas @ UCONN (formerly Magicicada.org) has sound files and images of what they looks like.
  • Study the maps and other documentation of previous sightings
  • Network with friends to find out where they are
  • Drive with your windows open (so you can hear them)
  • Car pool to save gas (or use you bicycle)
  • Respect private property
  • Document the specific location. Some smart phones and GPS devices will give you the latitude and longitude coordinates, but street addresses and mile markers work fine as well.
  • Document: how many cicadas you saw, and what phase they were in (nymph, white teneral cicadas, live adults, deceased adults).
  • Document the cicadas: take photos, take video, share your experience on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, etc.
  • Report the your discovery to magicicada.org

Document the Cicada’s Life Cycle

(Works for most cicadas)

You can observe many phases and activities of a cicada’s life while they are above ground.

Try this: Photograph or film as many stages of a cicada’s life as possible, then create a slideshow or movie depicting the life of a cicada. Post your finished slideshow or movie on the web (YouTube?) so other people can enjoy it.

Phases of a cicadas life you can try to capture:


Test Gene Kritsky’s Cicada Emergence Formula

(Magicicada only)

Cicada researcher Gene Kritsky developed a cicada emergence formula to try to predict when the cicadas will emerge based on the mean temperature in April.

Try this: on May 1st, go to our cicada emergence formula page, follow the instructions and find out when the cicadas might emerge in your area. Document when the cicadas emerge in your area, and compare the results. Note whether the cicadas emerge in sunny or shady areas.

Magicicada nets from Cicada Mania on Vimeo.

How to Keep Cicadas in Captivity

(Works for most cicadas)

People ask: “what’s the best way to keep a cicada in captivity?” The answer depends on how long you plan on keeping the cicada, and how happy you want the cicada to be.

Wooden and plastic bug houses (“Bug Bungalows”, “Critter Cabins”, “Bug Jugs”, etc.) will suffice as temporary homes for cicadas. The classic jar with holes punched in the lid works too. Add a fresh branch for them to crawl on and drink fluids from (or at least try). Remember not to leave it in the sun so the cicadas inside don’t bake!

Butterfly Pavilions are collapsible containers made of netting that you can use to gather cicadas, and provide them with a temporary home. People also use Fish Aquariums to keep cicadas in their homes for extended periods of time — add plenty of vegetation for the cicadas to crawl around on and some water for the cicadas to sip.

Try this: get some flexible netting and wrap it around a branch on a tree, making sure not to leave any openings, then put your cicadas inside. Cicadas in this kind of enclosure will be more likely to sing and interact because life trees are their natural habitat.

You can also try wrapping netting around a small, potted maple tree.


Want to keep your cicadas forever? Try the Massachusetts Cicadas guide to preserving cicadas.

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