Today Elias Bonaros and I surveyed Magicicada populations along the Staten Island shore at Wolfe’s Pond Park. The shore in this area took a serious beating from tropical storm Sandy. Everyone interested in the cicada populations in this area feared the worst for the cicadas. I’m happy to say that many cicadas survived and are currently singing in the location.
What is most amazing is even the cicadas along the eroded shoreline survived. Their exit holes can be seen in the soil along the beach, and even along the vertical face of the eroded soil.
Cicada holes along eroded shore line:
Cicada hole in eroded shore line with nymph exuvia:
I didn’t see any nymphs emerge and undergo ecdysis tonight, but I did find plenty of cicada chimneys and nymphs trapped under slates.
Cicadas build chimneys above their holes, typically after it rains a lot and the soil becomes soft. The chimneys help keep water from rushing into their holes, and they keep ants and other menaces out.
A good place to find cicada nymphs is under backyard slates (or similar objects that cover the ground). Flip over your slates and you might find a nymph tunneling their ways to the side of the slate.
Jairo of Cigarras do Brasil – Brazilian Cicadas asked for our help to identify some unknown cicada species from Brazil. The following videos feature cicada song belonging to the cicadas we want to identify. We are hoping folks in the cicada research community can help.
Note: All of these cicadas were photographed at Paraibuna, São Paulo. This town is close to the ParaÃba Valley (Vale do ParaÃba), and to São José dos Campos and CaÃ§apava.
If you’re in North America in mid to late summer, you might notice an abundance of large black and yellow wasps flying around your yard or local park. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll spot one of these wasps with a chubby green, black & white Tibicen cicada in its grasp.
These wasps are appropriately named Cicada Killer Wasps. There are many species of Cicada Killer Wasps, but the most well known is the Eastern Cicada Killer Wasp (Sphecius speciosus). These wasps paralyze and bring the cicadas to their burrow, where the cicada is used as food for a Cicada Killer Wasp larvae. The best Cicada Killer Wasp resource on the web is Prof. Chuck Holliday’s Biology of cicada killer wasps. If you’re interested in these wasps, visit Prof. Holiday’s site now.
People fear these wasps because they are large and we tend to fear stinging insects, but truthfully these wasps are not interested in stinging people — they are interested in stinging cicadas. Unlike more aggressive species of stinging insects, Cicada Killer Wasps will probably only sting you if you step on, harass or otherwise physically contact the creature. If you don’t want to be stung, don’t harass the wasps. Not need to panic. No need to bomb your local environment with pesticides.
Take a look at this stunning picture of a Cicada Killer Wasp holding a cicada while perched on Elias Bonaros’ finger. Neither Elias or the wasp was harmed. The cicada was harmed and likely eaten by a wasp larva.
Elias recorded this footage of a Cicada Killer “mating ball”. If you weren’t terrified by the image of the Cicada Killer clutching the Tibicen on Elias’ finger wasn’t scary enough, check this out:
Folks who have followed this website for the past 16 years (there are a few who have) know about the Lucky Cicada Keychain, and how I’ve been looking for a working model for the past 16 or so years. I finally have one now. I had to pry it open and replace the batteries (should have used a 192, but I used a 392 instead), but it works. Here’s a video so you can see what it looks and sounds like.
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.
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.
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.
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.
See the tiny cicada nymphs crawl around the branch and fall to the ground
Test Gene Kritsky’s Cicada Emergence Formula
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.
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.