Cicada Mania

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June 6, 2013

How loud/noisy (in decibels) do periodical cicadas get?

Last Thursday Roy Troutman, Elias Bonaros and I traveled around central New Jersey, looking for cicadas. They were not hard to find. Elias found a location in Colonia that had a particularly loud Magicicada cassini chorusing center. Using my camera and Extech 407730 40-to-130-Decibel Digital Sound Level Meter, I recorded the calls of these cicadas and how loud they can get. The quality of the video isn’t the best because it’s a camera, not a video camera, but it is good enough.

Magicicada cassini chorusing center peaking at 85db (on YouTube):

Elias and Roy used finger snaps, mimicking the wing snaps of female cicadas, to trick the males into singing:

Magicicada cassini responding to fingersnaps (on Vimeo):

Magicicada cassini responding to fingersnaps from Cicada Mania on Vimeo.

We placed the M. cassini directly on the microphone and got calls as high as 109 decibels, in this video:

Magicicada cassini calling at 109db in Colonia NJ from Cicada Mania on Vimeo.

There were a few M. septendecim in the area as well. A Magicicada septendecim goes from a Court II to Court III call as soon as it crawls on the decibel meter, in this video.

Magicicada septendecim court 3 from Cicada Mania on Vimeo.

The cicada choruses in Central New Jersey have no doubt gotten louder since last week. Hopefully, on Sunday I’ll get back out to Central Jersey or Staten Island and make some recordings.

June 5, 2013

Urban Buzz 17-Year Cicada Citizen Science Project

Filed under: Brood II | Community Science | Magicicada | Periodical — Dan @ 7:00 pm

Are you interested in participating in a cicada citizen science project? Check out: Urban Buzz: A 17-Year Cicada Citizen Science Project.

The folks behind the Your Wild Life website are hoping people will collect cicadas and send them to them for a science project to see how Urbanization impacts periodical cicadas.

They want samples from forests, from cities, from suburbs, from farms — in other words, across a gradient from low to high urbanization.

They have instructions on their site as to which cicadas to collect and where to send them.

Time is wasting though. The 17 year cicadas will only be around so long, so you have to act fast.

June 4, 2013

Stop the killing of cicadas! Help us fight back.

Filed under: Brood II | Magicicada | Periodical — Dan @ 5:18 am

Stop the killing of cicadas! Help us fight back!

red white and blue eyes

John Cooley of Cicadas @ UCONN let me know that The Home Depot has large Ortho stands that advocate the destruction of periodical cicadas. Here is his tweet on the topic.

I went to Lowes to check there as well and they had Sevin brand pesticides with hangtags that specifically mention cicadas. When I saw that in person it took all my willpower not to flip out and make a scene.

How can we stop these companies from advocating the destruction of cicadas? We can call, Tweet, and leave posts on their Facebook pages.

Call your local store and demand they remove signage that advocates the destruction of cicadas. Go to their websites, find their contact us pages, and call and email them.

If you see such displays in other stores, let them know how you feel as well. I will personally boycott these stores and sell any stock I have related to them.

Reasons why destroying cicadas is ridiculous:

Cicadas @ UCONN has a periodical cicada FAQ that features compelling reasons not to destroy these animals.

Here are my reasons:

  1. How often does an event occur that is as strange, sublime, and fascinating as a periodical cicada emergence? Very rarely. Maybe when a comet arrives. Four or five times in a lifetime, at most.
  2. You don’t want to rob future generations of the experience of a periodical cicada emergence, do you? You want your grandchildren and great-grandchildren to be able to experience these amazing creatures.
  3. Urbanization and other stresses are already shrinking Magicicada broods. Why accelerate their demise? Do you want the periodical cicadas to have the same fate as the dodo or passenger pigeon?
  4. It’s unpatriotic to kill periodical cicadas. Why? They’re only located in the U.S.A. They should be the official insect of the United States of America.
  5. Pesticides can cause collateral damage to other insect species like honey bees. Like to eat fruit? How about honey? Well, good luck if you help contribute to the acceleration of the death of honey bees. Read more about this topic. I think it would be ironic if a farmer sprayed to kill cicadas, but killed the pollinating insects as well.
  6. Can cicadas damage or kill small and fruiting trees? I’ve never seen it happen, but it is possible. Did you know that you can net these trees instead of drenching your neighborhood with pesticides? You can. The Magicicada FAQ has a picture of the netting.
  7. Pets and people love to eat cicadas. Do you want to poison your pets and kids when they eat a cicada treated with pesticide? I hope not.
  8. Probably the worst part about a periodical cicada emergence is cleaning up their rotting corpses. If The Home Depot and Lowes were smart, they would be selling Shop Vacs instead of chemicals.
  9. Using pesticides won’t help reduce the amount of time you have to spend cleaning them up. The corpses will pile up either way.
  10. Cicadas don’t eat fruit and vegetables. Unlike other insects, cicadas lack the mouthparts to chew vegetable matter. Unlike a caterpillar or grasshopper, they won’t eat your tomatoes or other garden vegetables.

I can go on and on…

Please help. Use social media to voice your disgust. Call your local store to ask them to take down anti-cicada signage.

May 30, 2013

Female Magicicada septendecula

Filed under: Brood II | Elias Bonaros | Magicicada | Periodical | Video — Tags: — Dan @ 9:45 pm

Here’s a video of a female Magicicada septendecula found in Woodbridge Township, NJ (near Metro Park).

Here is a still photo:

Female Magicicada septendecula

This is a male Magicicada septendecula:

Male Magicicada septendecula

May 23, 2013

Are you a musician? Do a duet with cicadas!

Filed under: Magicicada | Music | Periodical | Pop Culture — Dan @ 8:51 pm

Update: Here is the show that featured the finished cicada songs: http://wfmu.org/playlists/shows/51182

Are you a musician? Would you go out in the field ( or your yard ) and jam with some cicadas? WFMU DJ Kurt Gottschalk wants you to send him your duets with cicadas!

Visit Send Me Your Insect Duets! WFMU 17-Year Itch Special Forthcoming! to learn more about Kurt’s appeal to musicians.

I want to hear you sing with the cicadas! They’re out in DC and starting to emerge in Jersey. From what I’ve been able to discern there’s little agreement about where they’ll be in NYC.

My friends form the band Blithe Doll are already planning on contributing their cicada collaboration.

Speaking of musicians who have jammed with cicadas, here is David Rothenberg jamming with some 17 year cicadas:

David also has a new album called Bug Music featuring his collaborations with insects!

Last night at the Judson Church in NYC I opened David’s “Richard Robinson: Song of the Cicada (World Premiere), Insect Music, based on the calls, chirps and clicks of various insects” event with a presentation about the 17 Year cicadas. David’s film and music were extraordinary. Here is a review of the event.

Cicada Event

cicadas in Washington Park

A Cicada Kickstarter: Return of the Cicadas

Filed under: Magicicada | Periodical | Pop Culture — Dan @ 8:29 pm

Want to sponsor what could be the greatest cicada documentary of all time? Samuel Orr has a Kickstarter to fund the production of his 17 year cicada documentary Return of the Cicadas.

Rewards for backing the project include cool stuff like the film (download, dvd or bluray depending on your pledge amount) and a fine art photo print.

Just watch Samuel’s trailer for the film. You will want to back this film after seeing the trailer:

Return of the Cicadas from motionkicker on Vimeo.

More information about Samuel and the Kickstarter:

I’m a natural history filmmaker and time-lapse photographer (http://www.motionkicker.com/time-lapse/), and have been following and filming the various broods of periodical cicadas since 2007 (there are multiple groupings of cicadas called broods that come out in different years across the eastern U.S.). I’ve got 200+ hours of footage, and am working towards an hour documentary that focuses on the 17-year varieties as well as cicadas in general. This film is anticipated in 2014, and will be broadcast on PBS afterwards.

May 19, 2013

Tips for photographing adult Magicicadas for identification purposes

When photographing adult Magicicadas, particularly if you are interested in identifying their species and gender, it is important to photograph them from multiple angles: ventral (bottom) and lateral (left or right) particularly near the head. Please take photos of the dorsal (top), anterior (front), posterior (hind) and other angles, however ventral and left or right are the best sides to help identify the species.

We also encourage you to clean your fingernails and include an item which can be used to determine the size of the insect, like a ruler.

The ventral view allows us to determine the species and sex.

The following photo features a male (left) and female (right) Magicicada septendecim (Linnaeus, 1758). Note the orange striped abdomen, characteristic of the M. septendecim. Also, as with other cicada species, note that the female’s abdomen comes to a point, and the male’s abdomen is thicker and ends with a “blocky-shaped” structure.
Septendecim. Osamu Hikino's Magicicada Photo

The following photo features a female (left) and male (right) Magicicada cassini (Fisher, 1851). Note the lack of distinct orange stripes on the abdomen, characteristic of the M. cassini. Their abdomens are nearly completely black. Also note that the female’s abdomen comes to a point, and the male’s abdomen is thicker and ends with a “blocky-shaped” structure.
Cassini Osamu Hikino's Magicicada Photo

Both these images were taken by the same photographer (Osamu Hikino) and we can use the size of his fingertips (nice clean nails) to compare the size of these two species. The M. cassini is relatively much smaller than the M. septendecim, which is why M. cassini is also known as the “dwarf cicada”.

I don’t have a good photo of the third species, the Magicicada septendecula Alexander and Moore, 1962 [view a photo of M. septendecula on another website]. The M. septendecula is similar to the M. cassini in size (hence smaller than the M. septendecula), but it has orange stripes like the M. septendecim, which is why it is important to get a photo of the left or right side of the insect so we can see the color of the pronotal extension.

The pronotal extension is an extension of the pronotum that lies between the Magicicada’s eye and its wing (outlined in green in the photo below). M. septendecim have orange coloring in that area, which gives us a key way to visually distinguish them from M. septendecula.

Orange marking behind eye used to identify -decim Magicicadas.

If you want to learn more about diagnosing the species and gender of cicadas (all species, not just Magicicada sp.) using photographs, track down the document Overview of Cicada Morphology by Allen F. Sanborn of Barry University.

I don’t want to discourage you from taking amazing photos of cicadas in every position and angle possible using all your fancy macro lenses and whatnot. All cicada photos are awesome, but only a few angles help us identify the insect.

May 18, 2013

Brood II cicada photos from Iselin, NJ

Filed under: Brood II | Magicicada | Periodical | Photos & Illustrations — Dan @ 10:32 am

My friend Nicole DiMaggio sent us these photos of adult Magicicadas taken in Iselin NJ. The emergence is just getting started in New Jersey, and will really kick off next Tuesday when the temps hit the 80s.

Nicole DiMaggio

Nicole DiMaggio

Photos of Brood II Magicicada cicadas from Westfield, NJ by Jim Occi

Filed under: Brood II | Jim Occi | Magicicada | Photos & Illustrations — Tags: — Dan @ 8:57 am

These photos of adult Magicicada cicadas were taken in Westfield, NJ by Jim Occi on May 16th.

Adult Brood II Magicicada septendecim from Westfield NJ by Jim Occi

Adult Brood II Magicicada septendecim from Westfield NJ by Jim Occi

Adult Brood II Magicicada septendecim from Westfield NJ by Jim Occi

Adult Brood II Magicicada septendecim from Westfield NJ by Jim Occi

Adult Brood II Magicicada septendecim from Westfield NJ by Jim Occi

Adult Brood II Magicicada septendecim from Westfield NJ by Jim Occi

Adult Brood II Magicicada septendecim from Westfield NJ by Jim Occi

Adult Brood II Magicicada septendecim from Westfield NJ by Jim Occi

This photo is particularly interesting as the cicadas’s wings were damaged during the ecdysis (molting) process and its tymbal (the ribbed structure that makes the cicada’s sound) is clearly exposed:

Adult Brood II Magicicada septendecim from Westfield NJ by Jim Occi

Brood II cicada photos from Front Royal, Va

Filed under: Brood II | Magicicada | Periodical | Photos & Illustrations — Tags: — Dan @ 8:20 am

Nature photographer Candice Trimble of Front Royal, Va, sent us these Brood II Magicicada photos.

An adult Magicicada septendecim (Linnaeus 1758):
Candice Trimble 02 - Side View

Magicicada exuvia (shell):
Candice Trimble 02 Nymph

Magicicada adult (probably an M. septendecim):
Candice Trimble 02 Face

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