Cicada Mania

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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.

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

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…)

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