Cicada Mania

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

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

April 30, 2012

A Brood I Magicicada Periodical Cicada Primer for the 2012 Emergence

Filed under: Brood I | Magicicada | Periodical — Dan @ 8:11 pm

Brood I will next emerge in 2029.

This page was last updated in 2012.

When will they emerge?

Adult Magicicada

They are emerging now. Due to warmer than normal temperatures, Brood I cicadas have started to emerge sooner than expected. Typically, once the soil 8 inches (20cm) below the surface gets to 64 degrees Fahrenheit (18º C) they will emerge. Cicadas in sunny areas will emerge before cicadas in shady areas.

Where will they emerge?

Historically, Brood I has emerged in counties along the border of the Virginias, including the counties: Augusta, Bath, Bedford, Botetourt, Grant, Page, Pendleton, Rockbridge, and Rockingham. Visit the Magicicada Database Query Page to search historical records, or Cicadas @ UCONN (formerly Magicicada.org) to see a live map of the emergence.

Important: Magicicadas won’t emerge everywhere in the counties mentioned above. They might not exist in your town or neighborhood (particularly if there’s lots of new construction, which removes trees). The key to seeing them if they don’t emerge in your neighborhood is communication: networking with friends and family, checking the interactive maps on magicicada.org, checking sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

What you should look for

Look out for cicada chimneys, turrets or holes the diameter of an adult’s finger near the root system of a tree. These are sure signs that cicadas will emerge in the area.

You might discover some cicada nymphs while turning over stones or when performing landscaping chores. They are a golden-brown color, with black coloration in the area behind their heads.

Here is a great video of Magicicada nymphs once they have emerged from the ground:

Magicicada cicada nymph mania from Cicada Mania on Vimeo.

Once cicadas nymphs have emerged from the ground, they will try to find a tree, and then begin the process of exiting their old nymph skins, drying their wings, and changing to their adult coloring. If you have the time, a flashlight and a camera you can record this amazing transformation.

Molting cicada

What are they?

Magicicada is a genus of periodical cicadas known for emerging in massive numbers in 17 or 13 year cycles/periods. The cicadas emerging in 2012 have 17 year life-cycles. Magicicada are also organized into broods. There are 12 broods of 17 year cicadas, and the brood emerging in 2012 is Brood I (Brood One).

There are 3 species of 17-year Magicicada: M. septendecim (aka “decims”), M. cassini, and M. septendecula. The adults of all three species have black bodies with orange markings and red-orange eyes.

Perhaps the best way to visually distinguish the adults of the three species is by observing the coloration on their abdomens: M. septendecim have broad orange stripes with more orange than black; M. cassini has black abdomens with virtually no stripes at all, and M. septendecula has stripes that feature as much black as orange. Visit this Cicadas @ UCONN (formerly Magicicada.org) species page for detailed information, including photos and audio.

M. septendecim also have an area of orange coloring between the eye and the wing: color magicicada septendecim

Another great what to tell their difference is to listen to their song.

Here is some video and audio of 17 year Magicicada. This will give you an idea of what to expect:

Cicada Mania, best of 2007, part 1 by Dan from Cicada Mania on Vimeo.

Note: some folks call these cicadas “locusts”, but they are not true locusts.

Why?

Why do Magicicadas wait 17 years and why do they emerge in such large numbers? There are many theories why, but the primary reason could be that they’re trying to beat the predators. Since they emerge only once every 17 years, no species can anticipate their emergence (except man), and emerging in large numbers ensures that at least some of them will survive to reproduce. See more about Cicadas and Prime Numbers.

Who?

People have many reactions to Magicicada including fear, disgust, panic, mild curiosity, fascination, and fanaticism. We hope that YOU will find them fascinating, and get involved by helping to map the emergence, upload your cicada photos and videos to sites like YouTube, Pinterest, and Flickr, and participate in discussions on Twitter and discussion forums like Reddit.

More information:


1907 Map from Marlatt, C.L.. 1907. The periodical cicada. Washington, D.C. : U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Bureau of Entomology.

Marlatt 1907 01 Brood I

April 23, 2012

The Brood I Cicada Emergence Has Begun

Filed under: Brood I | Magicicada | Periodical — Dan @ 6:51 pm

The Brood I Cicada emergence has begun early, as predicted, due to the warm weather in recent weeks. The first Brood I cicadas were spotted in Roanoke, Virginia. See our Cicada Mania Facebook Page for a photo and the person who found them. Unfortunately, the cold weather seems to have hurt the early emerging cicadas.

First we had unnaturally warm weather, causing the cicadas to emerge early, and right when they start to emerge: cold, wet weather. This is bittersweet news.

BTW,

Here’s a list of counties where they should emerge:
Augusta
Bath
Bedford
Botetourt
Grant
Page
Pendleton
Rockbridge
Rockingham

April 1, 2012

Cicadas and Prime Numbers

Filed under: Anatomy | Magicicada | Periodical — Dan @ 8:51 pm

Last week io9 published an article titled Why do cicadas know prime numbers? The gist of the article is that cicadas developed long, prime-numbered, periodical life cycles to avoid gaining a predator that can synch up with the cicadas.

It’s an interesting read, but it’s a little thin on facts and references. Here is part of what the article is missing:

Only seven out of the hundreds of species of cicadas have 13 or 17-year life cycles, and they all belong to the genus Magicicada. Three species of cicadas have 17-year life cycles: M. septendecim, M. cassini, and M. septendecula. Four species of cicadas have 13-year life cycles: M. neotredecim, M. tredecim, M. tredecassini and M. tredecula. These are the periodical cicadas Stephen Jay Gould wrote about.

As one proof of the theory, there isn’t a wasp that specifically predates Magicicadas (the genus of cicadas with long, prime-numbered life cycles), but there is a Cicada Killer Wasp that predates Tibicen cicadas, which have shorter life cycles and emerge every year.

Although no animal predator has figured out their 17 & 13-year life cycle, one life form has: the Massospora cicadina fungus.

The book in which Stephen Jay Gould theorized about prime numbers and periodical cicadas is Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History. You can search through the book in Google Book Search, or just buy a copy (if you’re interested). I think I paid a cent for my copy (used).

Other species of cicadas also have life cycles of a prime number of years, but some do not. The Chremistica ribhoi is known for four-year life cycles, which coincide with the Fifa World Cup (association football event). The Raiateana knowlesi of Fiji has an 8 year life cycle.

Not all cicadas are periodical cicadas; the vast majority of cicada species appear every year even though their life cycles are longer than one year.

If you want to delve deeper into the subject of periodical cicadas and prime numbers, search for the paper Evolution of Periodicity in Periodical Cicadas by Nicolas Lehmann-Ziebarth et al.

This image is meant to be funny, but it’s a bit misleading…
A cicada counting prime numbers
It’s likely that periodical cicadas are counting in units of 4. 4+4+4+1 = 13. 4+4+4+4+1 = 17.

Prof. Douglas Galvao of the State University of Campinas has written a paper titled Emergence of Prime Numbers as the Result of Evolutionary Strategy. Download his paper from Cicada Mania.

Notes:

  • Cicadas do not incubate underground. Cicada eggs hatch above ground; typically in grooves in the stems of plants created by female cicadas.
  • Cicadas rarely sing at night. In rare circumstances, like in the presence of artificial light, they will sing at night. If you hear an insect at night it is likely a cricket or katydid (or frog).
  • Here’s another article with a practical application for web design called The Cicada Principle and Why It Matters to Web Designers.
  • Mathematical “locusts” an mathematical explanation of the cicadas and prime numbers phenomenon.

March 11, 2012

Is it hot enough for cicadas yet?

Filed under: Brood I | Magicicada | Periodical — Dan @ 9:48 am

Update (4/23): The first Brood I emergence (that we heard of) occurred in Roanoke, Virginia. Unfortunately, the sudden cold, wet weather seems to have hurt the early emerging cicadas.

The rest of this post was originally from March 11th, 2012:

Next week temperatures are forecasted to reach 79°F in the parts of Virginia, where Brood I Magicicadas are expected to emerge this year. That’s hot for March, but is it hot enough for the cicadas? Periodical cicadas typically emerge when the soil 8″ below the surface reaches 64°F. Although temperatures will be in the 70’s all week, that might not be enough to heat the soil to the necessary temperature, but stranger things have happened.

Last year Brood XIX Magicicada started emerging in Abbeville County, South Carolina after only 3 days of temperatures in the 70s.

My guess is temperatures won’t heat the soil enough to launch a full-blown emergence, but a few cicadas will emerge in the warmest and sunniest areas. Keep on the look out. Take photos and video. Report sightings to magicicada.org. Check the Magiciciada database for locations; places like Rockbridge, Page, Botetourt, and Bath counties…

hot under the exoskeleton

December 26, 2011

Brood I cicadas will emerge in Virginia and West Virginia in 2012

Filed under: Brood I | Magicicada | Periodical — Dan @ 9:51 am

The Magicicada periodical cicadas belonging to Brood I (one) will emerge in western Virginia and eastern West Virginia in the spring of 2012. Brood I cicadas have a 17-year life cycle. Three species of periodical cicada will emerge: Magicicada cassini, Magicicada septendecim, and Magicicada septendecula.

Brood I is also called the Blue Ridge brood because the emergence occurs in the Blue Ridge Highlands area. Brood I has historically emerged along RT 81 in Virginia, parts of George Washington National Forest, Jefferson National Forest, and around the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area in West Virginia. Visit the Brood I page on Magiciada.org for more information and maps.

Get ready…

Magicicada septendecim

September 4, 2011

Tibicen auletes from North Carolina

Filed under: Annual | Megatibicen | Tibicen — Tags: — Dan @ 8:00 am

Here’s a Tibicen auletes found in Winston-Salem, North Carolina by my friend Erin Dickinson. The T. auletes is also known as Northern Dusk Singing cicada. It can be found in most Southern states, IL, IN, MI, OH, MD, DE, NJ and CT.

The Tibicen auletes is the largest species of the Tibicen cicadas (largest in terms of physical size). Visit Insect Singers to hear its song.

Neotibicen auletes found in Winston-Salem, NC by Erin Dickinson. 2011.

View both Tibicen auletes photos.

August 7, 2011

Walker’s Cicada aka Megatibicen pronotalis (aka T. walkeri, T. marginalis)

Filed under: Annual | Roy Troutman | Tibicen — Tags: — Dan @ 7:24 pm

Roy Troutman sent us these amazing photos of a female Walker’s Cicada aka Megatibicen pronotalis (aka T. walkeri, T. marginalis) taken in Batavia, Ohio. As you can guess by the various akas (also known as), the Megatibicen pronotalis has been known by several species names in the past. Sometimes it takes cicada researchers a while to figure out that two different species are the same species (which is probably the case here). Tibicen pronotalis also sounds exactly like another species of Tibicen: Megatibicen dealbatus. The major difference between the M. pronotalis and the M. dealbatus is the M. dealbatus has more pruinose than the M. pronotalis. Pruinose is the white, chalky substance that appears on the bodies of cicadas.

Megatibicen pronotalis photo by Roy Troutman, taken in Batavia, Ohio

Megatibicen pronotalis photo by Roy Troutman, taken in Batavia, Ohio

Megatibicen pronotalis photo by Roy Troutman, taken in Batavia, Ohio

Megatibicen pronotalis photo by Roy Troutman, taken in Batavia, Ohio

Walker’s Cicada is found in 18 mid-western and southern states. Read more about this pretty cicada on Bug Guide, and listen to its song on Insect Singers.

June 26, 2011

It’s the season for annual cicadas

Filed under: Annual | Tibicen | Video — Dan @ 8:48 pm

The Brood XIX (and Brood IV stragglers) are all but gone, but annual species of cicadas are emerging around the United States right now. The various annual species of cicadas differ from periodical cicadas in many ways. Annual cicadas emerge in limited numbers every year, they are not organized into broods, they tend to be timid and camouflaged to match their environment, and while their life cycles are longer than a year, they are not as long as 13 or 17 years.

The most common annual cicada east of the Rockies is probably the various species of the Tibicen genus. There are also cicadas belonging to the Diceroprocta, Neocicada, and Okanagana genera out and about now.

Use the Insect Singers website to help match the species to their song.

Eclosing Tibicen tibicen by Dan from Cicada Mania on Vimeo.

June 12, 2011

Best Cicada News of the Week: Cicada Ice Cream?!

Filed under: Brood XIX | Cicada Arts | Magicicada | Periodical — Dan @ 10:30 am

Brood XIX News

You can see the latest 500 cicada sightings on magicicada.org. Visit their “2011 Brood XIX sightings” map. The latest reports are from Illinois and Missouri.

The latest Science Cabaret Podcast is about cicadas, and in particular, the relationship of birds and cicadas. The podcast features Dr. Walt Koenig and is hosted by Dr. Holly.

I enjoyed this blog post Kingdom of the Cicadas. It features photos and videos of the emergence from Joplin, Missouri.

Cicada Ice Cream

There were a lot of news stories about Sparky’s Ice Cream shop in Columbia, Missouri, and their cicada ice cream. After reading dozens of articles, it seems that they only made one batch, and the local health official(s) only advised them not to make the ice cream, but did not specifically or legally stop them from making it.

Related… cicada pie, pizza and tacos courtesy of the University of Maryland’s PDF cookbook. The cookbook is circa 2004 (Brood X) but they still work.

(more…)

May 22, 2011

Best Brood XIX Cicada News of the Week

Filed under: Brood XIX | Magicicada | Periodical — Dan @ 7:55 pm

Here’s a rundown of some of the best Brood XIX cicada news and multimedia from the week.

Emergence status:

It appears that Brood XIX’s emergence is now underway in every state they were supposed to emerge in, with the exception of Louisiana, but that could be that no one has reported in from Louisiana yet. You can see the progress of the emergence on Cicadas @ UCONN (formerly Magicicada.org)’s 2011 Brood XIX Map. I’m starting to hear that the emergence is winding down in Georgia, while it’s just getting started in Illinois.

Brood XIX is truly the first periodical cicada emergence where social media (Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo) became the primary method that people used to share and learn about cicada news and media. The Cicada Mania Facebook Page has been very active all throughout the emergence with many people sharing excellent photos and videos. I’ve been sharing the latest cicada news stories on the CicadaMania Twitter feed. If you want to keep up with the latest cicada news stories, Twitter is a great place to start.

The first white eyed cicada

Here is the first image of a white-eyed Brood XIX cicada that I’ve seen. The credit goes to biologizer on Flickr.

White eyed Cicada

If you’re on Flickr, you can add your photos to the Cicada Photos group, or if you simply want to see all the cicada photos showing up daily, search for cicadas.

The first Cicada Mania Brood XIX gallery

Thanks to David Green of North Eastern Arkansas for these photos of a Magicicada tredecassini.

Brood XIX Magicicada photos from North Eastern Arkansas taken by David Green. 2011.

Time Lapse videos of cicadas eclosing

A couple of time lapse videos of a cicada eclosing (leaving their old skin and becoming an adult) caught my eye:

Brood XIX Periodical Cicada 2011 from Mark Dolejs on Vimeo.

Interview of the Week

Dr. John Cooley of Cicadas @ UCONN (formerly Magicicada.org) was interviewed by Ira Flatow on Science Friday. Listen to the interview.

Cicada Humor

Singer / Songwriter Kathy Ashworth wrote a song called Sick of Cicadas, which you can listen to on her website.

This A Basic Guide to the Meaning of the Letters on Cicada Wings (pdf) will help you… figure out what the letters that appear on cicada wings mean.

More cicada videos

Here are some cicada videos that really stood out:

What else?

If you want to send in a cicada news story, video, etc, email us at cicadamania@gmail.com or find us on twitter at @cicadamania.

A word from our sponsor: The best way to remember a cicada emergence is with cicada apparel or mugs.

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