Cicada Mania

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

January 5, 2013

These are Not Cicada Insects!

Filed under: Anatomy | FAQs | Identify — Dan @ 4:07 am

I made this page for two reasons: 1) to point out insects and other animals that people commonly confuse with cicadas, and 2) list people, places and things named "cicada" that clearly are not cicadas.

By the way, if you’re looking for places to Identify insects that are not cicadas, try Bug Guide and What’s that Bug.

Order Orthoptera (Grasshoppers, Crickets, Katydids)

Are cicadas locusts? No, but people call them locusts, and have since the 1600’s.

Grasshoppers, Crickets and Katydids are often confused with cicadas because they are relatively large, singing insects. There are many differences between cicadas and Orthopterans, but the easiest way to tell them apart is Orthopterans have huge hind legs.

The Songs of Insects has song samples of grasshoppers, katydids, crickets and cicadas — listen and compare.

Learn more about insects belonging to the Order Orthoptera.

Grasshoppers / Locusts

True locusts are grasshoppers and definitely not cicadas.

Locust:

Locust

17-year cicada:

17-year cicada

People call periodical Magicicada cicadas "locusts" because they emerge in massive numbers like true locusts. Unlike true locusts — which will chew, eat and destroy virtually all vegetation they come across — most cicadas only cause damage to weaker tree branches when they lay their eggs. When true locusts come to town, your family might starve and die (because the locusts ate all your food). When cicadas come to town, your maple tree gets a few branches of brown leaves. Big difference.

Learn more about Grasshoppers on BugGuide.

Katydids

Katydids get confused with cicadas for both the way they look and for the sounds they make. Some key differences: katydids usually have wings that look like green leaves, long antennae, and large hind legs for jumping. Most of the time you year an insect at night, it’s either a cricket or a katydid.

Amblycorypha oblongifolia,-side_2012-07-26-17.10.53-ZS-PMax
Photo by USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Laboratory.

Learn more about Katydids on BugGuide.

Learn about North American Katydids on orthsoc.org

Crickets

Crickets don’t look like cicadas, but they do make sounds. Most of the time you year an insect at night, it’s either a cricket or a katydid.

Velarifictorus micado,-side_2012-07-09-18.36.02-ZS-PMax
Photo by USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Laboratory.

Learn more about crickets on BugGuide.

Learn about North American Crickets on orthsoc.org

Sphinx Moths

Sphinx Moths are confused for cicadas because, at a glance, they have a similar shape. Learn more about Sphinx moths.

Hawk or Sphinx Moth
Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Midwest Region

Other members of the Suborder Auchenorrhyncha

Planthoppers (Infraorder Fulgoromorpha), Froghoppers (Infraorder Cicadomorpha > Superfamily Cercopoidea), and Cicadelloidea (Infraorder Cicadomorpha > Superfamily Membracoidea ) are often mistaken for cicadas (Infraorder Cicadomorpha > Superfamily Cicadoidea) because they share the same Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order and Suborder — and they look a lot alike. The big difference is cicadas sing, while other members of Auchenorrhyncha do not sing.

Leafhopper, U, top, Patuxant, MD_2012-10-09-11.40.20 ZS PMax
Plant-Hopper,-side_2012-07-06-19.25.23-ZS-PMax
Photos by USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Laboratory.

Learn more about the other members of the Suborder Auchenorrhyncha.

June Bugs

NO, cicadas are not June Bugs. Many people confuse June Bug larvae for cicada larvae.

Beetle Larve Grubs

“I dug up a white grub in my backyard. Is it a cicada?”

Maybe. Just about every insect goes through a larval phase, and they pretty much all look alike to the novice. Unlike beetle larvae, cicada larvae or nymphs are not long-bodied like grubs. Long larvae = beetle larvae.

An example of a young cicada nymph unearthed from the ground. Note how its body is white, but it doesn’t have the Cheetos/worm-like body of a beetle grub:
Elias nymph

Frogs

Frog calls are often mistaken for cicada song, particularly at night.

Birds

Bird calls can be mistaken for cicada song. Some birds that can mimic sounds, such as Lyrebirds, Mockingbirds, and Psittaciformes (Parrots) could conceivably mimic cicada sounds.

The HORSE

No one would confuse a horse with a cicada (visually and audibly speaking), but there was a famous horse named cicada.

People, Places and Things Named Cicada

These are people (in the form of Bands), places and things named cicada. They often show up on Flickr, Twitter, eBay or Amazon, when I’m searching for cicada insects. It is awesome that people name stuff after cicadas (but it can be annoying when you’re searching for cicada insects, and other stuff shows up).

Bands

There are many bands with "cicada" in their name. These show up a lot on eBay and Twitter. Here is a partial list:

There are many albums named Cicada as well, such as Cicada by Cat Scientist. That one comes up a lot in ebay.

Places

These places show up on twitter, and when I search for cicada photos on Flickr.

Things

Here’s a list of other things that often show up in eBay, Twitter and Amazon.

  • BattleTech BattleMech Cicada is a toy.
  • Cicada is a company that makes dental equipment.
  • Cicada Magazine is a magazine for children.
  • The Cicada is a multi tool.
  • PageFlip Cicada is a wireless Bluetooth pedal designed to meet the needs of musicians and people with disabilities who struggle with the challenge and inconvenience of page turning.


December 30, 2012

Tosena Cicadas

Filed under: Oriental Cicadidae | Tosena | Tosenini | W. L. Distant — Dan @ 9:56 am

Tosena is a genus of cicadas that can be found in the Indo-Malaya ecozone, which includes the Indian subcontinent, Southeastern Asia and southern China. Tosena cicadas have colorful wings, which rival the beauty of butterfly wings. Tosena are easily obtainable online from stores that sell insects, or ebay. The Tosena genus was first identified by Charles Jean-Baptiste Amyot & Jean Guillaume Audinet-Serville in 1843.

From A Monograph of Oriental Cicadidae by W. L. Distant:

Tosena is one of the most conspicuous genera of the Cicadidae, and its species are all included in this fauna. The north-eastern districts of Continental India are its head-quarters, for here are focused some of the largest and handsomest of its species ; it is also well represented in Burma, and from thence its distribution is extended throughout the Malay Peninsula to the south, and apparently northward as far as some portions of China. In the Malayan Archipelago it is not uncommon in Sumatra, Java, and Borneo, and as I have seen representatives from Amboyna, it probably exists in other intervening islands, of which, however, we have at present no precise information.

Different types of Tosena:

Tosena albata:

Tosena albata
Photo by Michel Chantraine.

Photos of live T. albata.

Distinguishing features: Mustard colored pronotal collar, orange abdomen with a series of two black circular spots, and dark brown wings with one white stripe on each fore wing.

Habitat: Southeast Asia.

Tosena depicta:

Tosena depicta
Illustration from A Monograph of Oriental Cicadidae by W. L. Distant.

Photos of living T. depicta.

Distinguishing features: A vibrant green pronotal collar; an orange abdomen with a series of black markings; wings are dark brown to black, with the one white stripe on each fore wing, and a white anal lobe on each hind wing.

Phantastic songs of the S.E. Asian cicadas! website has an MP3 of a T. depicta singing.

Habitat: Southeast Asia.

Tosena fasciata

Tosena fasciata by Álvaro Lisón Gómez
Tosena fasciata by Álvaro Lisón Gómez Creative Commons License.

Photo of a live T. fasciata.

Distinguishing features: A pale orange pronotal collar; brown wings with one white stripe on each fore wing; an orange abdomen with one black spot; the the anal lobe of the hind wing appears lighter in color than the rest of the hind wing.

Habitat: Southeast Asia.

Tosena mearesiana

No photos.

Distinguishing features: See A Monograph of Oriental Cicadidae by W. L. Distant

Habitat: India.

Tosena melanoptera

Photos of a live T. melanoptera.

Distinguishing features: Red eyes; white pronotal collar; pale brown stripe on dark brown fore wings.

Habitat: India & Southeast Asia.

Tosena monitvaga

No photos.

Distinguishing features: See A Monograph of Oriental Cicadidae by W. L. Distant

Habitat: India.

Sources to learn more about Tosena cicadas:

  • The Book Cicadas of Thailand: General and Particular Characteristics. Volume 1 by Michel Boulard. This book mentions Tosena, in particular, many times, and in general it does an excellent job of discussing the anatomy, behavior and habitat of cicadas found in Thailand.
  • A Monograph of Oriental Cicadidae by W. L. Distant. (1889, Published by the Order of the Trustees of the Indian Museum of Calcutta).
  • Rhynchota: Heteroptera-Homopetera ( Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma ) by W. L. Distant (1906)
  • The Cicadas of India Facebook page

December 25, 2012

Ceramic Singing Cicadas from France

Filed under: France | Pop Culture | Video — Dan @ 10:44 pm

I received a pair of ceramic singing cicadas for Christmas. Here’s a video of what they look and sound like. They are made in France and were obtained from a restaurant in Westfield, NJ called Chez Catherine.

Cicadas are called cigale in France.

Here’s the cicada Keychain mentioned in the video.

December 15, 2012

Magicicada Sneakers

Filed under: Pop Culture — Dan @ 3:37 pm

NIKEiD lets you create unique sneaker designs. Considering that 2013 will bring the emergence of Brood II, I need some sneakers that show my affinity for periodical cicadas.

NikeiD Sneakers

They’re black, dark grey, orange and red, just like Magicicadas. The soles are orange. Unfortunately they do not sing like cicadas do.

December 9, 2012

Two new cicada publications worth reading

Filed under: Allen F. Sanborn | Canada | United States — Dan @ 1:46 pm

Two relatively new cicada publications that should be worth reading:

1) Avian Predation Pressure as a Potential Driver of Periodical Cicada Cycle Length by Walter D. Koenig and Andrew M. Liebhold, The American Naturalist. This is a newly electronically published paper about what drives the long, prime-numbered lifecycle of Magicicada periodical cicadas.

Abstract:

The extraordinarily long life cycles, synchronous emergences at 13- or 17-year intervals, and complex geographic distribution of periodical cicadas (Magicicada spp.) in eastern North America are a long-standing evolutionary enigma. Although a variety of factors, including satiation of aboveground predators and avoidance of interbrood hybridization, have been hypothesized to shape the evolution of this system, no empirical support for these mechanisms has previously been reported, beyond the observation that bird predation can extirpate small, experimentally mistimed emergences. Here we show that periodical cicada emergences appear to set populations of potential avian predators on numerical trajectories that result in significantly lower potential predation pressure during the subsequent emergence. This result provides new support for the importance of predators in shaping periodical cicada life history, offers an ecological rationale for why emergences are synchronized at the observed multiyear intervals, and may explain some of the developmental plasticity observed in these unique insects.

Order it from JSTOR.

2) The Cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadoidea: Cicadidae) of N. America North of Mexico by Allen F. Sanborn and Maxine S. Heath. 227 pages.

A comprehensive review of the North Amerian cicada fauna that provides information on synonymies, type localities, and type material. There are 170 species and 21 subspecies found in continental N. America north of Mexico. The book has 211 figures with each species photographed in color.

Buy it from the Entomological Society of America website. I’ve already ordered mine.

I can’t wait for Sanborn’s book on Central and South America (hopefully, that will arrive within the next few years).

Update:

I’ve received Allen F. Sanborn and Maxine S. Heath’s book. It’s focus is on identifying all species of cicada fauna in North America, north of Mexico, as the title says. It also identifies species that were reported to exist in this location, but do not. The book provides maps and common attributes of each genus of cicada, and then for each species it provides photos of the holotype (and the location of the holotype), as well as a history of its taxonomy.

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).

December 2, 2012

Blue Cicadas

Filed under: Anatomy | Australia — Dan @ 7:14 pm

Blue cicadas. Did you know they exist? They do… at least in Australia.

What’s That Bug recently posted a photo of a blue Bladder Cicada from Australia (Cystosoma saundersii). It’s a great find. Cystosoma saundersii are typically green.

Then there is the Blue Moon blue colored morph of Cyclochila australasiae:

Cyclochila australasiae, Blue Moon, by David Emery
Photo by David Emery

Cyclochila australasiae come in many colors, but the most common color is green. “Blue Moon” is a good nickname for these cicadas because they are rare and only found, idiomatically speaking, “once in a Blue Moon”.

So, why are some cicadas blue, when their species is typically green? Here is a quote from the paper Blue, red, and yellow insects by B. G. BENNETT, Entomology Division, DSIR, Private Bag, Auckland, New Zealand:

The colours of insects are often due to a complex mixture of pigments, some of which
are concentrated from their diet. These are carotenoids, flavonoids, and anthraquinones, and some are porphyrins made from the breakdown of plant chlorophyll. Insectoverdin is a common green pigment produced by a mixture of blue and yellow compounds. The blue is tetrapyrrole, but sometimes an anthocyanin, and the yellow is a carotenoid.

Blue + yellow = green. If the yellow is missing, you get a blue cicada. I heard that, at least in the case of the Cyclochila australasiae, the blue cicadas are typically females. Perhaps something related to genetics or behavior of the females leads to an inability to process the caroteniods ingested along with their diet (tree fluids). I’m not sure, but it’s a topic that fascinates me, so I’ll continue to look into it.

Mating Bladder cicadas

Filed under: Cystosoma | David Emery | Mating — Tags: — Dan @ 7:34 am


Mating bladders 2, originally uploaded by ozzicada.

An excellent photo of mating Bladder cicadas (Cystosoma saundersii) by David Emery.

November 25, 2012

Cacama aka Cactus Dodgers

Filed under: Cacama | Cryptotympanini — Tags: , — Dan @ 11:03 am
Cacama valvata

A Cacama moorei (female) photo taken by Adam Fleishman.

Cacama is a genus of cicadas, known as Cactus Dodgers, found in Mexico and Southwestern United States. They are known for their affinity for cacti like prickly pear & cholla, and are most likely named Cactus Dodgers for their ability dodge the needles of their favorite plants. They are primarily black, gray, white, and beige colored; well camouflaged for the desert.

The two most common species seem to be Cacama moorei and Cacama valvata. The best way to tell them apart is C. moorei have a lot of orange on their ventral side.

Eyes Gray to golden beige
Ventral side Mostly white, heavy pruinose
Legs Black to golden beige
Dorsal side Gray to Black, with rust, golden or beige highlights. Prominent white pruinose along the sides of the mesonotum, and the 1st tergite (dorsal abdominal segment) of the abdomen.
Wings hyaline, with black to golden beige viens

According to BugGuide there are 12 species of Cacama: C. californica , C. carbonaria, C. crepitans, C. collinaplaga, C. dissimilis, C. furcata, C. longirostris, C. maura, C. moorei, C. pygmaea, C. valvata and C. variegata.

Cacama was the lord of the Aztec kingdom of Tezcuco (see The History of the Conquest of Mexico, by W.H. Prescott), who met his end at the hands of Spanish conquistadors. Cacama lives on in these winged desert treasures.

Some Cacama links:

The Insect Singers website has the song of a Cacama valvata.

A nice photo of a Cacama furcata taken in New Mexico.


November 11, 2012

Great website: The cicadas of central eastern Australia

Filed under: Australia — Dan @ 6:42 am

If you are located in Australia and like cicadas, you should visit The cicadas of central eastern Australia, a website created by Lindsay Popple.

Popple’s website includes: photos, maps, range & season, habits, and recordings of the song of dozens of Australian cicadas. Very complete and well done.

The cicadas of central eastern Australia

The site was recommended to me by David Emery.

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