Cicada Mania

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

May 12, 2022

Chremistica ribhoi, the World Cup Cicada, is emerging!

Filed under: Chremistica | Cryptotympanini | India | Periodical — Tags: — Dan @ 4:33 am

Chremistica ribhoi, aka Niangtasar and the World Cup Cicada, is emerging! Chremistica ribhoi is a periodical cicada that lives in India (state of Meghalaya) and emerges every four years. It is nicknamed the World Cup cicada because it emerges the same year as the World Cup soccer/football sports event.

Sudhanya Ray Hajong sent us the following photos and text describing the event:

A molted, teneral (soft) male:
a newly emerged teneral adult of C.ribhoi

The worldcup cicada emergence May 2022

The four year long wait is over for the young and old of the villagers of Saiden village in the
northeastern Indian state of Meghalaya, and if you happen to be around you not fail to
notice the excitement among the young and old, men and women here in Saiden . It is
beginning of May and the World cup cicada or ‘Niangtaser’ as is called by the Bhoi
community has started emerging. The forest of Iewsier located on this a remote corner of
the world is suddenly buzzing with the calls of thousands of ‘Niangtaser’ or Chremistica
ribhoi Hajong & Yaakop, 2013.

Come sunset, one will see young children, boys and girls, and even aged man and
women with a bag carried around their shoulder, a piece of bamboo cane hung by tread
around their neck and a torch in hand – they are conversing in excitement and flocking in
small groups proceeding on trails taking them inside the forest. The atmosphere is almost
festive and everyone is so friendly and smiling expecting eagerly to seek out and pick as
many ‘ Niangtaser’ as possible, to be brought back home for delicious preparation and to
be pickles and dried and kept for months to relish the unique taste that Mother nature has
bestowed.

The nymphs with their powerful forelegs silently dig over ground in the stillness of the
night and one can see the still freshly emerged nymphs covered in soil crawling sluggishly
seeking anything upright to cling upward until they can secure themself on the surface with
their claws, the slow process then begins, with the splitting of the thoracic integument
along the mid dorsal line, the adult gradually pushes out of the shell until they are fully
outside the old exuviae, the wings which were crumpled slowly unfold and the now fully
emerged teneral adult with their fully spread-out wings appear as a beautiful greenish
ethereal glow under the soft light of our headlamps.

Come daylight and the adults now in hundreds and thousands fly out resting in clusters on
tips of twigs and branches of the several bamboos, one would hear the incessant and
almost whistling crescendo of calls of the ‘Niangtaser’ with the rising heat of the sun if you
are just below these trees one would feel the rain like shower drizzling earthward from the
hundreds of adults peeing from the tree tops.

This year though the fear of a fresh COVID resurgence had dampened the spirit of the
villagers of Siden , as no ‘Niangtaser’ Festival could be organised with much fanfare like
the previous emergence years.

The Folklore of the Bhoi people – A sick old women who was transformed into the
peeing ‘Niangtsers’

Long ago as the Bhoi Khasis of Siden village traditionally believed that, there lived an old
women who suddenly fell sick with a strange stomach ailment that made her to go
frequently to calls of nature for her frequent watery discharge. Fearing that her ailment
would spread among the villagers, the village elders finally decided that she was to taken
to the forest and kept separated alone in a bamboo thatch until she could get herself
cured. It is said that, when the villagers next morning went to check on her with food and
water, they were surprised to find they she had strangely vanished, but surprisingly they
found thousands of the cicadas everywhere on the branches of the trees and strangely all
of them were found to be discharging some kind of fluid from the rear of their abdomen.
They were thus lead to believe that the forest sprit feeling pity on her had transformed the
old sick women into thousands of the cicadas, and to this day the old women appear
around the forest of Iewsier in the form of thousands of ‘Niangtasers’ and even now she
still suffers from her stomach ailment and pass frequent watery discharges from the top of
trees.

Will the ‘Niangtaser’ come again and again, after every four years, few village the elders
who narrates how once upon a time ‘Niangtaser were plentiful and widespread; and how
now things have changed and how forest were gone along with many areas from were
‘Niangtaser’ are no more found. They are saddened by this development and tells us that
the number of ‘Niangtaser’is dwindling, forest patches where large number of them
emerges are no longer there, in its place farmlands and houses had appeared, they fear it
is not far when the folklore and the ‘Niangtaser’ that is so relished will vanish and only
remain a folklore of the distant past. The unique gift of mother nature may no longer be
there if we do not check our greed and our want for more and more land and more
material wealth. Village elders like Bah Kret Sungkli caution us that if we do not part our
greedy ways we may have to lose this wonderful gift of mother nature.

By Sudhanya Ray Hajong with able field assistance from my dear Rodeson Thangkiew,
who was inspired by ‘Niangtaser’ and to take up his PhD in cicadas.

A poem by Sudhanya Ray Hajong:
Niangtaser poem

Two nymphs that have emerged from the ground:
nymphs of C.ribhoi just emerges and covered with soil

A molting adult:
emerging adult

A molting adult:
side view of teneral adult with a termite attracted to our headlamp

A molting adult:
teneral adult in process of emergence

January 16, 2019

Chremistica tagalica Stål, 1870

Chremistica tagalica Stål, 1870, is a cicada found in the Malayan Archipelago and Philippine Isles.

Chremistica tagalica was formerly known as Cicada tagalica.

Scientific classification:
Family: Cicadidae
Subfamily: Cicadinae
Tribe: Cryptotympanini
SubTribe: Cryptotympanina
Genus: Chremistica
Species: Chremistica tagalica Stål, 1870

Chremistica tagalica Stål, 1870

Species description from A Monograph of Oriental Cicadas by W.L. Distant:

Dilute olivacea ; fascia lata verticem fere totum occupante, fronte inter rugas, basi vittaque media exceptis, fascia genarum, loris, basi excepta, lateribus clypei, rostro apicem versus, vittis sex, lateralibus obliquis, disci antici thoracis, maculis quattuor oblongo-obtriangularibus anterioribus, lateralibus ultra medium extensis, lituraque litteram T reversam (x) simulante discoidali scutelli, dorso abdominis, apice coxarum posteriorum, vitta trochanterum, femoribus anticis subtus, tibiis apice superne, tibiis anterioribus interdum fere totis, tarsis totis vel basi et apice nigris; tegminibus alisque vitreis, interdum obsolete subinfuscatis, venis olivaceis, apicem versus obscurioribus, vena postcostali, raro ulnari, postcostali, interdum etiam costa posterius nigris ; segmento dorsali anali maris olivaceo-flavescente.

[Male] Operculis distincte nounihil longioribus quam latioribus, retrorsum sensim distincte angustatis, apice subsemicirculariter rotundatis, prope basin contiguis, baud tamen valvantibus, dein sensim divaricatis, olivaceo-flavescentibus, intus ssepius nigricantibus.

References:

  1. The illustration, description and location information comes from A Monograph of Oriental Cicadas by W. L. Distant. 1889-1892. Read it on the Biodiversity Heritage Library website.
  2. Species name information comes from Allen Sanborn’s Catalogue of the Cicadoidea (Hemiptera: Auchenorrhyncha).

December 10, 2017

The World Cup Cicada, Chremistica ribhoi

Filed under: Chremistica | Cryptotympanini | India | Periodical | Sudhanya Hajong — Tags: — Dan @ 1:01 am

Update: a reminder that the World Cup Cicada will be back in 2022 (along with the World Cup)!

cicada soccer

Chremistica ribhoi Hajong and Yaakop 2013 is a cicada that lives in the Ri-Boi district of India. C. ribhoi is known as the World Cup cicada because it emerges every four years in synch with the World Cup association football (soccer) tournament.

C. ribhoi is known locally as Niangtasar. It only lives in a very small area: Saiden village (25°51’37.1″N 91°51’16.3″E) and Lailad/Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary (25°55’09.7″N 91°46’25.0″E) situated on the northern part of the state of Meghalaya. The cicada can be identified by the presence of two white spots on either side of the anterior abdominal segment.

Researcher Sudhanya Hajong is gearing up to study these cicadas since this is the year they will emerge. Ri-Boi area locals use these cicadas as a food source and fish bait. These cicadas are threatened by deforestation (cutting down forests for agricultural purposes). Sudhanya plans to educate locals about conserving them and protecting their habitat.

Photos of Chremistica ribhoi.

Most of the facts in the post come from the following document: Hajong, S.R. 2013. Mass emergence of a cicada (Homoptera: Cicadidae) and its capture methods and consumption by villagers in ri-bhoi district of Meghalaya. Department of Zoology, North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong – 793 022, Meghalaya, India.

Thanks to Chris Simon of The Simon Lab at UCONN for providing the information that made this post possible.

Note: the image in this article is not an accurate depiction of C. ribhoi. :)


June 28, 2015

Do cicadas pee?

Filed under: Anatomy | Chremistica | FAQs | Magicicada — Dan @ 8:11 am

More than a few people have asked Cicada Mania: “do cicadas pee”? Absolutely, cicadas do pee. There are a couple of reasons why:

  • They pee to eliminate excess fluids taken in while drinking xylem (1).
  • They pee to eliminate non-essential amino acids (2).
  • Underground, they could use excess fluid to help moisten and remold their tunnels & cells (2).
  • They might, in some cases, even use it to keep ants from attacking… (3)

You may have been under a cicada-filled tree on a sunny day and felt a sprinkle or two. Don’t worry, it is just watery tree sap (xylem) passed through a cicada.

A detailed explanation of the experience courtesy of Les Daniels:

I’ve experienced this several times where I was on the receiving end of this artificial rain. When many cicadas congregate on warm days, they feed on the tree fluids and often urinate ‘piss’ while doing so. This bug urine is called ‘honeydew.’ The little buggers have pelted me several times while I was observing a little ‘too’ close. It isn’t uncommon. Lastly, the ‘honeydew’ does not stain or stink. In fact, it feels like raindrops.

Some cicadas seem to pee more than others, for instance, the Chremistica umbrosa of South-East Asia. If you walk under an umbrosa, you will need an umbrella! (The Latin root of both words, umbr means shade). Here is a video of Chremistica umbrosa:

Sources:

1 Records Of The Cicada, Chremistica Umbrosa (Distant, 1904) In Singapore, With Accounts Of Its Mass Emergence (Homoptera: Cicadidae: Cicadinae), Tzi Ming Leong, Aminurashid and Benjamin P. Y-H. Lee, NATURE IN SINGAPORE 2011 4: 163–175, 15 June 2011

2 The Ecology, Behavior, And Evolution Of Periodical Cicadas, Kathy S. Williams and Chris Simon, Annu.Rev. Entomol. 1995. 40:269-95

3 The documentary The Queen of Trees by Deeble & Stone features a segment about Fig Cicadas, that expel pee, sweet with the phloem sap of the fig tree, which is enjoyed by ants and monkeys, which has the side benefit of keeping those predators and nuisances away.

May 28, 2014

Chremistica umbrosa

Filed under: Chremistica | Singapore — Dan @ 4:57 am

Chremistica umbrosa can be found in South-East Asia, in particular Singapore. If you go to see them, bring an umbrella. I don’t know why these cicadas pee this often, but I imagine they are eliminating some toxin or waste or chemical (sugar, perhaps) that is not good for them.

Watch the videos:

December 9, 2012

Learn about the cicadas of Singapore

Filed under: Chremistica | Dundubia | Huechys | Purana | Singapore — Dan @ 7:54 am

Want to learn more about the cicadas of Singapore?

The National University of Singapore has six PDF documents about six species of cicadas living in Singapore. Each document contains photos of cicadas, and plenty of interesting information.

1) Record Of The Cicada, Purana usnani Duffels & Schouten In Singapore, With Preliminary Acoustic Analysis by Tzi Ming Leong (Nature In Singapore 2012 5: 13–17 Date Of Publication: 17 January 2012). Link: rmbr.nus.edu.sg/nis/bulletin2012/2012nis013-017.pdf.

This document features photos of the P. usnani as well as analysis of their songs.

A video of Purana usnani singing:

2) Oviposition By The Black And Scarlet Cicada, Huechys sanguinea (De Geer, 1773) In Singapore by Tzi Ming Leong and Ali bin Ibrahim (Nature In Singapore 2011 4: 303–306 Date Of Publication: 18 October 2011). Link: rmbr.nus.edu.sg/nis/bulletin2011/2011nis303-306.pdf.

Huechys sanguinea is a small but beautiful black and red cicada. This document features photos of an H. sanguinea ovipositing (laying eggs) in a tree branch.

Huechys sanguinea
An image of H. sanguinea, which can be found in Singapore, Thailand and other S.E. Asian countries (and often in acrylic keychains on ebay).

3) Records Of The Cicada, Chremistica umbrosa (Distant, 1904) In Singapore, With Accounts Of Its Mass Emergence by Tzi Ming Leong, Aminurashid and Benjamin P. Y-H. Lee (Nature In Singapore 2011 4: 163–175 Date Of Publication: 15 June 2011). Link: rmbr.nus.edu.sg/nis/bulletin2011/2011nis163-175.pdf.

This document features information about distribution, emergence, bio-acoustics, communal feeding, and predation.

Here’s a video of an aggregation C. umbrosa urinating and singing:

4) Records Of The Black And Golden Cicada, Huechys fusca Distant, 1892 In Singapore, With Natural History Observations by Tzi Ming Leong, Mishak Shunari, Laurence Y. K. Leong, and Sai Khoon Foo (Nature In Singapore 2011 4: 203–211 Date Of Publication: 8 July 2011). Link: rmbr.nus.edu.sg/nis/bulletin2011/2011nis203-211.pdf.

This document features information about emergence, bio-acoustics, mating, and oviposition of Huechys fusca.

A video of Huechys fusca singing:

5) Records Of The Black And Scarlet Cicada, Huechys sanguinea (De Geer) In Singapore, With Notes On Its Emergence by Ali bin Ibrahim and T. M. Leong (Nature In Singapore 2009 2: 317–322 Date Of Publication: 5 August 2009). Link: rmbr.nus.edu.sg/nis/bulletin2009/2009nis317-322.pdf.

This document features observations of Huechys sanguinea. Huechys sanguinea is a beautiful cicada.

6) The Jade-Green Cicada, Dundubia vaginata (Fabricius, 1787) In Singapore, With Notes On Emergence, Bioacoustics, And Mating by Tzi Ming Leong, Mishak Shunari, Aminurashid and Timothy D. Harvey-Samuel (Nature In Singapore 2011 4: 193–202 Date Of Publication: 5 July 2011). Link: rmbr.nus.edu.sg/nis/bulletin2011/2011nis193-202.pdf.

This document features information about emergence, bio-acoustics, and mating of Dundubia vaginata. Dundubia are known for there huge opercula (the structures on their abdomen that cover the cicada’s tympanum (tympanum are a cicada’s ear drums).

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