Cicada Mania

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

Cicada T-shirts

July 5, 2015

When is a locust not a locust? When the locust is a cicada.

Filed under: FAQs | Identify | Magicicada — Dan @ 6:26 am

Are Cicadas Locusts? The short answer is NO. However, in the U.S.A. we’ve been calling cicadas “locusts” for hundreds of years.

People have seen referring to cicadas, particularly Periodical cicadas, as both flies and “locusts” since the 1600’s, when colonists first documented them.

Gene Kritsky's The Plague and the Puzzle

Gene Kritsky’s book Periodical Cicadas: The Plague and the Puzzle provides a chronology and historical texts of people referring to cicadas as “locusts”. Consider this quote from Pehr Kalm from 1756:

By the Englishmen here they are called Locusts and by the Swedes living here, they have gotten the name Grasshoppers. In Latin, they could be called Cicada.

It makes some sense that Englishmen would call cicadas Locusts, and Swedes would call them Grasshoppers because there was only one species of cicada in both England and Sweden. This cicada, Cicadetta montana montana, call is so high-pitched you need electronic assistance to hear it, so most people were not aware of its existence. So, when Englishmen and women encountered cicadas they likely thought “there are a lot of them, they’re big, I’m afraid they’re going to eat my carrots — these must be LOCUSTS”!

Cicadas are indeed not Locusts, Grasshoppers or Flies.


Take a look that the illustration of a true locust below. You’ll notice the true locusts have HUGE rear legs for hopping, long antennae, and relatively long bodies. True locusts chew the plants they consume, while Magicicadas suck fluids from trees.

Locust:

Locust

17-year cicada:

17-year cicada

Characteristic Locust Cicada
Order Orthoptera Hemiptera
Hind Legs Giant hind legs for jumping Hind legs about the same size as other legs; great for climbing and perching.
What they eat Everything green they can find to eat Xylem sap
They’re in your town All the plants in your town have been stripped bare Cool UFO movie soundtrack sounds during the day

For more instances of cicadas being confused with other types of insects, read the article These are not cicada insects!

July 3, 2015

How Long Does a Periodical Cicada Emergence Last?

Filed under: FAQs | Magicicada | Periodical — Dan @ 2:47 pm

People often ask: “how long do cicadas last”, “how long will the cicadas be here”, or “how long do cicadas live above ground”?

People probably ask these questions, sadly, because they are tired of listening to the love songs of these cicadas. Like the saying “it is darkest before the dawn”, however, silence is typically a few weeks away.

The length of a local emergence:

The typical periodical cicada emergence will last between 6 to 8 weeks in a single location, with significant chorusing (singing) lasting about 3 to 4. Cool weather or rain can prolong an emergence.

The research paper Emergence of 13-Yr Periodical Cicadas (Cicadidae: Magicicada): Phenology, Mortality, and Predator Satiation by Kathy S. Williams, Kimberly G. Smith, and Frederick M. Stephen1 contains a wonderful study of the arc of a periodical cicada emergence. The entire emergence event takes place within 8 weeks, from the first emerged cicada to the last dead cicada (see Fig 4 in that document 1). The number of live adults reached its peak within two weeks and then began to die off in significant numbers two weeks after that, due mostly to natural causes. After that, the population of cicadas gradually dwindles due to natural deaths and predation.

Length of the chorusing:

Male cicadas will not begin chorusing at the start of an emergence, for a couple of reasons: 1) the first cicadas to emerge, which are primarily males (Fig 3 in 1), are mostly lost to consumption by predators (Fig 6 in 1), 2) Males can’t sing until their adult bodies are fully sclerotized, and 3) they need a significant number of males present before they will chorus. That said, chorusing typically begins within two weeks 2. Males will continue to chorus until enough cicadas die to no longer sustain the chorus, which is why the chorus lasts less than a month.

Length of the emergence of an entire brood:

An emergence spanning multiple states could last between 8 to 10 weeks from when the first cicadas emerge in the South to when the last cicada dies in the North. For example, Brood XXIII began appearing the second to last week of April in Mississippi, and there were likely some left in southern Illinois up until the last week of June.

References:

1 Kathy S. Williams, Kimberly G. Smith, and Frederick M. Stephen, Emergence of 13-Yr Periodical Cicadas (Cicadidae: Magicicada): Phenology, Mortality, and Predator Satiation, (1993), Ecology, Volume 74, Issue 4 (Jun., 1993), 1143-1152
2 Kathy S. Williams and Chris Simon, The Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution of Periodical Cicadas, (1995), Annu.Rev. Entomol. 40:269-95

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.

June 27, 2015

What is Predator Satiation?

Filed under: FAQs | Magicicada | Periodical — Dan @ 9:24 pm

Why are there so many Magicicada periodical cicadas, and what does it have to do with the survival of their species? One of the answers is: Predator Satiation.

A predator is any animal that would eat a periodical cicada, i.e., birds, raccoons, squirrels, dogs, snakes, etc. Satiation, in the case of cicadas, means to supply predators with enough cicadas to eat until they are wary of eating and thus avoid them completely.

Predator satiation works like this:
1) Periodical cicadas emerge in tremendous numbers.
2) Adult cicadas are often timid, even after having sclerotized.
3) The first cicadas that emerge are eagerly consumed by predators.
4) The predators are so overwhelmed by the bounty of easily eaten cicadas, that they fill themselves to the point of disgust and exhaustion.
5) This gives the remaining cicadas a chance to escape the predators.

The first periodical cicadas are literally “fodder”, in the battle between predators and periodical cicadas, to use a war/video game analogy.

Look at this periodical cicada: it is thinking “hopefully this creature will eat me, so my siblings will live on!”

Magicicada on my finger by Dan from Cicada Mania on Vimeo.

The research paper Emergence of 13-Yr Periodical Cicadas (Cicadidae: Magicicada): Phenology, Mortality, and Predator Satiation by Kathy S. Williams, Kimberly G. Smith, and Frederick M. Stephen (Ecology, Volume 74, Issue 4 (Jun., 1993), 1143-1152) is worth reading if you are interested in this topic. They found that predation of cicadas peaks during the first few days of the emergence, and doesn’t resume in significant numbers until three weeks later (see figure 6, if you read the paper).

Unfortunately, this strategy could be detrimental to periodical cicadas in areas with dwindling populations, where there isn’t enough of them to satiate the predators completely.

This strategy might also be used by other types of periodical cicadas like the Chremistica ribhoi of India, or cicadas that emerge in large numbers like Callogaeana festiva of south-east Asia.

June 11, 2015

Look and listen for Magicicada stragglers in 2015

Filed under: Brood V | Brood VIII | Magicicada | Matt Berger | Periodical | Periodical Stragglers — Dan @ 1:01 am

Another straggler sighting, this time in Cleveland which should make it a Brood V one year straggler:

Matt Berger Brood V Stragger 2
A Brood V straggler found by Matt Berger in West Virginia. See more photos of this cicada.

The emergence of Brood XXIII is well underway in the states along the Mississippi, and Brood IV should kick off in the west as soon as it stops raining every day. These aren’t the only Magicicada periodical cicadas emerging in the U.S. this year — some stragglers will emerge as well.

A straggler is a periodical cicada that emerges before or after the rest of its brood. Typically a straggler belonging to a 17 year brood will emerge 4 years early, but they might also emerge a year early, or a year late, or even 4 years late. This probability chart, details the probability of a straggler emergence.

In 2015 you might find the following stragglers:

Tyla MacAllister found a Brood XIX Magicicada straggler (emerged 4 years late) in Alabama!

June 8, 2015

Brood IV, the Kansan brood, will emerge in 2015

Filed under: Brood IV | Magicicada | Periodical — Dan @ 1:01 am

Brood IV will next emerge in the year 2032.

This page was last updated in 2015.

The most popular question is “how long will the cicadas last“. They’ll last as long as it takes for them to mate and run our of energy. They translates to about 4 weeks of singing. Good weather — dry, calm, and in the 80s — helps them finish their business quicker.

Here is a video that will show you how to identify the various species:

2015 Brood IV

Brood IV, the Kansan brood, will emerge in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa, in the spring of 2015.

The cicada species that will emerge are Magicicada cassinii (Fisher, 1852), Magicicada septendecim (Linnaeus, 1758), and Magicicada septendecula Alexander and Moore, 1962. These periodical cicadas have a 17-year life cycle. The last time they emerged was 1998.

Counties:

Here is a list of the Counties where Brood IV periodical cicadas have appeared in the past. The data comes from the Cicada Central Magicicada Database. The bolded counties are the ones Cicada Central has specimens for, indicating that they’re more of a sure thing.

Iowa: Adair, Adams, Cass, Dallas, Fremont, Johnson, Mills, Montgomery, Page, Pottawattamie, Ringgold, and Taylor

Kansas: Allen, Anderson, Atchison, Bourbon, Butler, Chase, Cherokee, Coffey, Crawford, Doniphan, Douglas, Geary, Greenwood, Johnson, Labette, Linn, Lyon, Marion, Montgomery, Neosho, Osage, Pottawatomie, Riley, Saline, Sumner, Wilson, Woodson, and Wyandotte

Missouri: Atchison, Barton, Buchanan, Caldwell, Clay, Clinton, Daviess, Dekalb, Gentry, Grundy, Harrison, Holt, Jackson, Johnson, Lafayette, Livingston, Mercer, Nodaway, Pettis, Ray, Saline, Vern, and Worth

Nebraska: Cass, Douglas, Johnson, Nemaha, and Sarpy

Oklahoma: Bryan, Carter, Choctaw, Comanche, Cotton, Craig, Garvin, Grady, Lawton, Mayes, McCurtain, Muskogee, Noble, Osage, Ottawa, Pawnee, Rogers, Stephens, Tulsa, and Washington

Texas: Cooke, Denton, Fannin, Grayson, Kaufman, Lamar, Montague, Wise

Learn more about Brood IV:


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

Marlatt 1907 04 Brood IV

May 29, 2015

Brood XXIII, the Lower Mississippi Valley brood, will emerge in 2028

Filed under: Brood XXIII | Magicicada | Periodical — Dan @ 1:01 am

Brood XXIII, the Lower Mississippi Valley brood, will emerge in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois, and Indiana, in the spring of 2028.
Brood XXIII stragglers are emerging in 2024!
Brood XXIII last emerged in 2015.

About Brood XXIII:

Species:

The cicada species that will emerge are Magicicada tredecim (Walsh and Riley, 1868); Magicicada neotredecim Marshall and Cooley, 2000; Magicicada tredecassini Alexander and Moore, 1962; and Magicicada tredecula Alexander and Moore, 1962. These periodical cicadas have a 13-year life cycle.

All the counties/parishes:

Here is a list of the Counties where Brood IV periodical cicadas have appeared in the past. The data comes from the Cicada Central Magicicada Database.

  • Arkansas counties: Bradley, Calhoun, Carroll, Chicot, Clark, Cleburne, Cleveland, Columbia, Conway, Craighead, Crawford, Crittenden, Cross, Dallas, Drew, Faulkner, Franklin, Fulton, Garland, Howard, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Marion, Mississippi, Monroe, Montgomery, Newton, Perry, Poinsett, Prairie, Randolph, Saline, Sebastian, St Francis, Stone, Union, Van Buren, Washington, White, Woodruff, Yell
  • Arkansas cities: Bayou Deview Wildlife Management Area, Poinsett County, Devalls Bluff, Harrisburg, Holland Bottoms, Jacksonville, Jonesboro, Knox Co., Lake Hogue, Lake Poinsett State Park, Little Rock, and Wynne.
  • Illinois counties: Alexander, Champaign, Clark, Crawford, DeWitt, Edwards, Jackson, Lawrence, Logan, Macon, McLean, Perry, Piatt, Pulaski, Randolph, Richland, St Clair, Union, Vermilion, Wabash, Williamson
  • Illinois cities: Anna, Carbondale, Carterville, Chester, Clinton Lake, Giant City State Park, Marissa and Robinson.
  • Indiana counties: Bartholomew, Clay, Daviess, Franklin, Gibson, Greene, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Knox, Lawrence, Parke, Perry, Pike, Posey, Putnam, Ripley, Spencer, Sullivan, Vanderburgh, Warrick
  • Indiana cities: Harmonie State Park, Hymera, Leanne, Richland, Sullivan And Posey Counties.
  • Kentucky counties: Ballard, Barren, Calloway, Carlisle, Christian, Clinton, Crittenden, Daviess, Fulton, Grant, Graves, Hardin, Hickman, Hopkins, Lee, Logan, Lyon, Marshall, McCracken, Metcalfe, Muhlenberg, Ohio, Simpson, Todd, Trigg, Warren, Webster
  • Kentucky cities: Benton, Calvert City, Gilbertsville, Henry County, Murray, and Paducah.
  • Louisiana counties: Bienville, Caddo, Caldwell, Catahoula, East Feliciana, Jackson, Livingston, Madison, Morehouse, Ouachita, Pointe Coupee, Richland, Tangipahoa, Tensas, Washington, Webster, West Carroll
  • Louisiana cities: Bastrop, Choudrant, Grayson and West Monroe.
  • Mississippi counties: Adams, Alcorn, Amite, Attala, Benton, Calhoun, Carroll, Choctaw, Claiborne, Clarke, Clay, Coahoma, Copiah, Covington, DeSoto, Franklin, Grenada, Hinds, Holmes, Issaquena, Itawamba, Jasper, Jefferson, Kemper, Lafayette, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Lee, Leflore, Lincoln, Lowndes, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Montgomery, Neshoba, Newton, Noxubee, Oktibbeha, Panola, Pike, Pontotoc, Prentiss, Quitman, Rankin, Scott, Sharkey, Simpson, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tate, Tishomingo, Warren, Washington, Yalobusha, Yazoo
  • Mississippi cities: Alva, Arlington, Booneville, Brandon, Clinton, Corinth, Desoto County, Florence, French Camp, Hernando, Holcomb, Houlka, Jackson, New Albany, Oxford, Potts Camp, Silver Creek, Tishomingo, and Water Valley.
  • Tennessee counties: Carroll, Cheatham, Chester, Decatur, Dyer, Fayette, Gibson, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, Henderson, Henry, Humphreys, Lake, Lauderdale, Madison, Maury, McNairy, Montgomery, Obion, Rutherford, Shelby, Stewart, Tipton, Wayne, Weakley, Williamson
  • Tennessee: Atoka, Benton, Cordova, Henry County, Huntingdon, Jackson, Lavinia, Leach, Lexington, McNeary County, Memphis, Paris, Savannah, and Speedwell.

More location tips:

Here are the locations where folks reported the cicadas to Cicada Mania in 2002:

Brood XXIII reports from 2002

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

Marlatt 1907 23 Brood XXIII

The Latest (from 2015):

The most popular question in the comments: “how long will they last”. The typical answer is about 4 weeks of singing or less. They sing to meet a mate, and once they mate a few times, they run out of energy and die. Four weeks is the typical time, although this varies depending on the weather. The cicadas will complete their mission faster if there are drier, calm days in with temps in the 80s.

My gallery of photos from Brood XXIII.

The Giant City State Park area of Illinois was loaded with cicadas. This area has all four species. It isn’t easy to tell the difference between M. neotredecim and M. tredecim, but you might notice a difference in the coloration of their abdomens (tredecim is almost all orange, while neotredecim is orange and black). There is also a difference in the pitch of their calls when they are in close proximity, so you might hear an odd dissonance in their calls. M. tredecim pitches lower. I will post photos, videos and sounds later in the week.

There are plenty of cicadas in the Land Between the Lakes area of Kentucky & Tennessee. The best place so far was Kenlake State Resort Park where M. tredecassini, M. tredecula, and M. tredecim are chorusing. The tredecula and tredecim were up in the trees out of reach, but I was able to find a few tredecim (the bigger ones with very-orange abdomens) in the weeds at ground level.

Cold and rain (and road weariness) has prevented me from locating cicadas in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas — I know they’re there but if I can’t hear them, I can’t investigate. I’m headed north to Tennessee, Kentucky, and Illinois. Sun and temps in the 80s should make for good cicada observation. If you’re wondering why cicadas have suddenly become quiet, it’s typically because of cold temps and rain. Generally, these cicadas like it to be about 77F before they’ll fly and sing. Colder than that, and they’ll chill.

I arrived in the Jackson Mississippi area on May 19th around 3 pm. M. tredecassini were chorusing along route 20 west of Roosevelt State Park, and I found an M. tredecim (below) at a gas station. There were plenty of M. tredecassini and M. tredecula chorusing and courting in the woods behind the Mississippi Museum of Natural History. Neocicada hieroglyphica (a non-periodical cicada) was also calling in the woods.

Gas Station Cicada

April 5, 2015

Time to start looking for signs of periodical cicadas

Filed under: Magicicada | Periodical | United States | Video — Dan @ 1:01 am

Depending on where you live, it might be warm enough for periodical cicadas to start moving around underground, or start digging tunnels to the surface and building cicada “chimneys” above their holes.

The next major emergences are Brood XIII (17-year) and Brood XIX (13-year) in 2024. The last time these broods co-emerged was 1803.

What to look for:

1) Animals can hear the cicadas stirring underground, and will try to dig them up and eat them. Look for holes (about the size of a walnut or larger) made by animals digging for cicadas.

Brood II; Cicada Holes

2) Look for cicadas under stones and slates. Some cicadas will burrow their way to the surface, but they hit a large stone or slate and can go no further.

If you find them in this situation, gently put the stone or slate back. They will usually find their way around the obstruction once the time is right.

One clue that a Magicicada nymph is not ready to emerge is its eyes are still white. Their eyes turn red/orange before emerging (a few retain a white/blue color).

3) Cicada holes are about the size of a dime. Cicadas preemptively dig holes to the surface and wait until the weather is nice enough for them to emerge. Sometimes you can see them down in the holes.

Magicicada holes

Magicicada holes

4) Cicadas form chimneys above their holes when the soil is moist or muddy. These chimneys might look like a simple golf ball-sized dome or a structure over six inches tall.


Photo by Roy Troutman.

Brood II 2013 - Dan Mozgai - Cicada Chimneys

Periodical cicadas typically won’t emerge until their body temperature reaches approximately 65 degrees Fahrenheit (17-19.5 Celsius1). Their bodies are warmed by surrounding soil or warm water from rain. A good rule of thumb is, if the soil 8 inches(20 cm) deep is 65°F, the conditions are good that they might emerge.

And here’s how to tell if a nymph is ready to molt:

A diagram that shows when a nymph is ready to molt.

1Heath, J.E. 1968. Thermal synchronization of emergence in periodical “17-year” cicadas (Homoptera. Cicadidae, Magicicada). American Midland Naturalist 80:440—448.

March 9, 2015

2015 Periodical Cicada Emergences

Filed under: Brood IV | Brood XXIII | Magicicada | Periodical Stragglers — Dan @ 1:06 am

There will be two major periodical cicada emergences in 2015. We’re less that 2 months away!

2015 BROOD IV AND XXIII

Brood XXIII, the Lower Mississippi Valley brood:

This brood of 13 year Magicicada will emerge in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois, and Indiana. Brood XXIII features all four 13 year Magicicada species M. tredecim, M. neotredecim, M. tredecassini and M. tredecula.

When they’ll emerge depends on the weather. A cool spring will mean the emergences will start later in the spring. Regardless of the weather, the emergences will begin in the Southern-most states, sometime in late April or early to mid May.

Brood XXIII should, depending on the weather, start emerging in less than two months; some time in late April in Louisiana.

Brood IV, the Kansan Brood:

This brood of 17 year Magicicada will emerge in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa. Brood VI features all three 17 year Magicicada species M. septendecim, M. cassini, and M. septendecula.

Brood IV should start emerging in early May.

Brood IV and XXIII won’t emerge in the same year again until the year 2236. The only state that features both Brood XXIII & IV is Missouri, but the areas where they emerge do not overlap.

Stragglers:

The best bet for Stragglers will be Brood VIII (17 year cicadas emerging 4 years early) & XIX (13 year cicadas emerging 4 years late). There is also a chance for III (17yr/1 year late), V (17yr/1 year early), and XXII (13yr/1 year late). Visit our brood page, to see the states where these stragglers might emerge.


February 5, 2015

Visualizing all periodical cicada broods

Isn’t this a lovely picture (updated with colors sorted)?

All Broods

This image represents the combined range of all Magicicada periodical cicada broods, including the extinct Broods XI (last recorded in Connecticut) and XXI (last recorded in Florida).

To produce this image, I visited John Cooley’s Cicadas @ UCONN Cicada Geospacial Data Clearinghouse and downloaded the Shapefile of Magicicada broods. Then I used the computer program QGIS to change the Shapefile to a KML file, and then I opened the file in Google Earth. Credit goes to John for pulling the data together into the Shapefile.

I manually edited the KML file to try to give each Brood a different color.

An interesting area is Fredrick County, where 5 different broods seem to exist (or have existed) at once.
Fredrick County VA

Peach = Brood I
Green = Brood II
Purple = Brood V
Cyan = Brood X
Red = Brood XIV

It’s also interesting that four of the broods are separated by four years: X, XIV, I, V.

« Newer PostsMore »

Cicada T-shirts