Cicada Mania

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

Cicada T-shirts

July 5, 2016

Color the cicada and the cicada killer wasp

Filed under: Cicada Killer Wasps | Papers and Documents — Dan @ 7:42 pm

Today I was searching old news papers for cicada information, and I came across a gem from the past.

One of the papers (New-York tribune. (New York [N.Y.]) September 21, 1902, Image 43) I found features an illustration of a cicada being carried off by a cicada killer wasp. The illustration appeared in the kids section of the paper and was meant to be colored.

In Insect Land NY Tribune 1902

The cicada is referred to as a “Harvest Fly”, which indicates that it is a member of the genus Neotibicen (back in 1902 I think the genus was either called Cicada or Tibicen). Judging by the description of the cicada it is likely a Neotibicen tibicen tibicen aka the Swamp Cicada.

Instructions for coloring the insects:

Directions for coloring-. Body black, with a dark
green band just back of the head, and two round
white spots on the first ring- or segment of the
abdomen. The eyes, legs and antennas are green.
The veins of the wings are green near the tody,
gradually shading into black at the tips. The
wings are transparent. The wasp, which is carry
ing off a dead harvest fly, is brown-the color of
bronze. The pupa or young harvest fly in the tree
is brown also. The tree trunk is dark brown; the
grass green.

The harvest fly, or cicada, often incorrectly called
locust is usually the herald of hot weather. He
comes out in August, and the hotter the day the
more energetically he sings. He is own cousin to
the seventeen-year cicada, and it takes him two
years to reach his growth. He begins life as a
Uny egg bidden away by his mother under the
bark of sum.- tree. Who, he hatches out a tiny
grub, he begins eating Into his surroundings and
often does much damage. Soon he changes to a
pupa, and falls to the ground, i” which he imme
diately buries himself. Here he remains for two

June 29, 2016

I want a cicada emoji

Filed under: Pop Culture — Dan @ 4:51 am

New emoji are coming soon. A adult butterfly will be added to the list of insect emoji, which include a beetle, ant, caterpillar (aka larval butterfly) and bee. You know what is missing? A cicada.I doubt we’ll get it now that the emoji are decided by a consortium, but you never know.

It could be this one:
cicada emoji

June 26, 2016

Got Flagging? Report flagging and egg nests.

Filed under: Community Science | Flagging | Magicicada | Ovipositing | Periodical — Dan @ 1:01 am

Got flagging? Flagging happens when tree branches wilt or die due to cicada egg laying, resulting in bunches of brown leaves. Don’t worry, this will not cause trees to die, unless they are small and weak trees. Flagging can actually do a tree a favor, by removing its weakest branches.

Some video of cicada flagging:

A photo of flagging:

Periodical Cicada Flagging

June 25, 2016

My 2016 Brood V Experience

Filed under: Brood V | John Cooley | Magicicada | Matt Berger | Periodical — Tags: , , — Dan @ 11:20 am

Magicicada exuvia on an oak leaf_sm
Many exuvia clinging to oak leaves. Core Arboretum, WVU.

My plan was to check out Maryland first, then head to West Virginia for a few days, and then Ohio. If weather, time and patience allowed, Virginia and Long Island, New York. Like all my periodical cicada trips I start by consulting the map on Cicadas @ UCONN (formerly Magicicada.org) to see where folks are finding cicadas. I also consult with the folks who study periodical cicadas professionally to discover their favorite hot spots and any locations of particular scientific interest. This year, the interesting spot was north-western Maryland — more on that later.

Generally speaking, you’ll see a lot of pin-drops for Magicicada cassini on the map. This is because you can hear them while driving at 70mph. You often have to stop your car and turn off the engine to hear the other species, so even though there’s lots of M. cassini on the map, there’s probably just as much M. septendecim. Generally speaking, my mapping methodology works like this: I stop and take notes when I can (usually at rest stops, parks or when I’m staying in a particular town — see Morgantown & Athens later in the article) and this is when I’ll hear M. septendecim & M. septendecula, but when I’m driving interstate highways at high speeds (with a parade of angry drivers who would rather tailgate me that use the left lane to go around me) I can only take data points for M. cassini.

What do I bring with me on a seven-day cicada road trip? Aside from clothes, road food, smartphone, and my AAA card, I bring equipment to aide my study of cicadas:

  • A junk computer. A decrepit laptop that I won’t care if it gets stolen.
  • A video camera.
  • A device for measuring sound level (decibels).
  • A notepad and pen (because technology fails).
  • Butterfly pavilions, which are these expandable enclosures for holding and observing insects.
  • Containers for holding dead specimens, and silica gel to keep them dry. Note: before you collect, make sure it is legal in the location you plan to collect. Collecting wildlife from National Parks is illegal. Collecting cicadas from a Hampton Inn parking lot is usually okay.
  • Suntan lotion and Bug Spray. I like insects, but ticks and mosquitos can turn cicada observation into a nightmare. Many researchers wear pyrethrum treated clothes (yes, bad for cats).
  • A flashlight.
  • Cicada Mania pins for folks I meet along the way.

What I don’t bring but should is one of John Cooley’s Cicada O Matic GPS Dataloggers. I have to make observations by hand.

Other than that, I follow the typical Power Vacation rules.

Maryland Part 1:

The first town I hit was Accident, Maryland (great name). There were sightings on the Cicadas @ UCONN map, and the name of the town was awesome, so I wanted to check it out. Unfortunately, I didn’t observe any cicadas there.

Route 68, West Virginia

Traveling west along Route 68, about half-way between the center of Bruceton Mills and Coopers Rock State Forest I started to hear pockets of M. cassini. I stopped at Coopers Rock, and at first, I was disappointed: I didn’t hear any cicadas from my car. Once I stopped my car and turned off the engine I could hear them: M. septendecim with their spooky sci-fi UFO chorus in the distance. It became obvious that the park had a healthy population of M. septendecim, with a smattering of M. cassini as well.

Morgantown, WV

Next, I arrived at Morgantown, WV. Some twitter friends had been posting cicada photos from there, so I thought it would be a good location to set up base and make observations for a few days. The hotel I chose had an excellent population of M. septedecim and cassini around it; so much so that the staff couldn’t keep up with unwanted cicada guests that littered their doorway, trampled by oblivious human guests.

My first day there I walked around the West Virginia University campus near the hospital, stadium & iHop. The sky was overcast and it was getting late in the afternoon, but it was clear that the campus and town had an abundance of periodical cicadas, and that I made a good choice in setting up camp there. At night, in my hotel parking lot, I was able to watch cicadas emerge as nymphs as transform into adults, which is always a highlight of an emergence for me.

WVU Core Arboretum

Core Arboretum is a large botanical garden devoted to trees (“arbor”) on the WVU campus. It was an excellent place to observe cicadas. I was able to observe all three species, the tiny but LOUD M. cassini, the larger & relatively docile M. septendecim, and the rarest of the species M. septendecula. Finding M. septendecula so early in my trip was a treat. Their clockwork/tambourine sound (at least that’s what I think they sound like) gave them away.

I met entomologists Matt Berger, who has contributed many cicada photos to this site over the years, and his colleague HereBeSpiders11 (twitter name). Awesome people. I met Zachariah Fowler, the director of the arboretum as well. Another awesome person.

Magicicada white eyes
A white-eyed Magicicada septendecim.

I was able to check off many of my cicada checklist items in Morgantown: I found a white-eyed cicada, I saw & heard all three species, and more.

Leaving West Virginia, Entering Ohio

M. cassini were plentiful along route 79 and 50 headed west towards Athens, Ohio. Along the way, I made a few stops and heard & observed some M. septendecim as well.

Athens, Ohio

Athens was another good location to stay and observe cicadas. The parks in the surrounding area had excellent cicada populations, and I had a rare chance to meet John Cooley of Cicadas @ UCONN (formerly Magicicada.org).

My first day in Athens I spent at Dow Lake in Strouds Run State Park. There I met John Cooley who was there showing a German film crew the particulars of cicada behavior. Dow Lake had a healthy mix of LOUD M. cassini and M. septendecim, but the cassini definitely dominated. The highlight for me was not a cicada, but spotting a rat snake climbing down from an acacia tree where it was no-doubt snacking on cicadas.

Sells Park in Athens was a nice place to hear VERY LOUD M. cassini choruses, well into the high 80-90db mark. So loud that I limited my time there, and left after an hour.

Hocking Hills

Hocking Hills is an amazing park north of Athens than features a spectacular above-ground cave and many acres of forest filled with cicadas. Hocking Hills had a good population of all three species, and M. septendecula were unusually easy to find. They seem to have preferred areas where deciduous trees blended with evergreens, at least in the locations I found.

Vinton Furnace Experimental Forest

A Magicicada cassini chorus from the Experimental Forest:

A Magicicada chorus with audible M. septendecula from the Experimental Forest:

Vinton Furnace Experimental Forest is a forest curated to include as much biological diversity as possible. All three periodical cicada species make up part of that diversity. M. septendcula choruses were very easy to find. The forest was thrilling to visit — aside from the biting deer flies, it was exhilarating to see or hear so many species of insects, birds, and plants in one place. Also, thrilling were the winding one-lane dirt roads; I almost died a few times thanks to wild drivers out for a pretend Finland Rally race.

Back to Maryland

After an overnight stop back in Morgantown, WV, I headed back to Maryland to prove (or disprove) that periodical cicadas were there, and if I did find them, the extent of their population. It is important to show the limits of their population as researchers (John Cooley in particular) are interested in demonstrating that the Brood V population in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia & Maryland is distinct from the population in Virginia.

I’m happy to report that I did find periodical cicadas in Maryland. The populations were mostly the relatively quieter M. septendecim — the type you really have to stop the car & turn off the engine to be certain they’re there. I did find M. cassini as well, but M. septendecim dominated. The adorably named Friendsville and Selbysport had good populations, as did the hill above the Youghiogheny river overlook rest stop on I68. South of this area, I did not hear or see cicadas on Bear Creek Road, Rt 42, Rt 219 or Rt 495. It is possible there are pockets of cicadas deep in the woods and out of earshot in those areas, but it is clear there was no great population of periodical cicadas in those areas if any at all. I spoke to a chainsaw bear sculptor in Bittinger, which is not far from where the Appalachian Plateau ends & the Ridge and Valley area starts. I showed him a photo of a periodical cicada. He said he had never seen them in his life, and nor did he see them in Accident where he went to church. He did hear about them on the news, so he was aware of them.

Maryland

Pennsylvania, and home

After collecting cicada data and buying a chainsaw bear, I headed north into Pennsylvania. I stopped at a rest stop, enjoyed the last I would hear of Brood V, and headed back home.

More!

June 22, 2016

Jim Thorpe Pennsylvania Magicicada Emergence

Filed under: Brood V | Magicicada | Periodical — Tags: — Dan @ 9:12 pm

There was an unexpected* emergence of periodical cicadas in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania this spring. Experts believe it is a disjunct brood related to Brood XIV. Brood XIV is found in the area, according to entomologist and Pennsylvania-based periodical cicada mapper Marten Edwards, but perhaps not in the exact same specific locations. Brood II is also in the area but on the other side of the mountain. Although this group of cicadas emerged the same year as Brood V, it probably is not related (genetically & evolutionary), but that is TBD.

The terrain of the Jim Thorpe area is comprised of mountains & valleys belonging to the Appalachian Mountain system of the Eastern United States. I observed cicadas on mountainsides and in lower valley areas. They seemed most plentiful and gregarious on the edges of the forest, preferring small, young maple trees where they gathered, sang, paired off, mated and died. Although their numbers were lesser deep in the woods, I did find exit holes and exuvia there. The most interesting discovery was finding a fully sclerotized, but dead, adult cicada within an overturned teacup left in the shade of an old tree. I discovered a few “cicada chimneys”, vertical structures made of soil surrounding exit holes, under pine trees where the cicadas seemed to need to extra hight to get above the thick layer of pine needles that littered the forest floor.

The best populations seemed to be along the Lehigh Gorge Trail from its entrance on Main Street to the Lehigh Gorge, and north, up the mountain the Lehigh Gorge Trail circumscribes, all the way to Lehigh Gorge Drive. The trees along Route 903, starting at Old Pipeline Road and heading south, were loaded with active cicadas — so many, that it was hard to avoid their flying bodies as I drove towards downtown Jim Thorpe.

If you want to see them, go this weekend (June 24-26). They were plentiful in the Lehigh Gorge area:
Lehigh Gorge

The population seems to be entirely made up of Magicicada septendecim. No Magicicada cassini or septendecula were found (so far).

A Carolina Grasshopper (Dissosteira carolina) next to a “Locust” (Magicicada septendecim).
Grasshopper and Cicada
More photos from this emergence in the gallery.

Locals were calling them “Locusts” — sometimes I forget that’s what folks call them, but of course they’re really cicadas.

Sound files: all are Magicicada septendecim

A single call:

A Spectrogram of its call:

Magicicada septedecim spectrogram

Multiple males calling:

An extra-weird call around 11-12 seconds:

You can here some wing flicks in this one:

*Unexpected as cicada researchers were not expecting it, but locals probably knew about it.

Post script:

I found a scan of a news paper from 1880 (The Carbon advocate., March 06, 1880, Lehighton, Pa.) that mentions that “locusts” would emerge in the area in the summer. “Locust” is, of course, a common misnomer for cicada, the Carbon Advocate was the paper for the Mauch Chunk (Jim Thorpe) area, and 1880 was 8 x 17 years ago:

News Clipping

June 15, 2016

Periodical cicada photos and video from Brood V

Filed under: Brood V | Magicicada | Matt Berger | Periodical | Video — Dan @ 6:30 pm

I took a lot of cicada photos and video when I traveled to Maryland, West Virginia and Ohio. Matt Berger also contributed a gallery of cicada photos to the site.

Some of my photos:

Red and Orange eyes; Brood V

Magicicada exuvia on an oak leaf_sm

Magicicada white eyes

Photos of the Brood V emergence by Matt Berger.

A sample of Matt’s photos. Click/tab for larger versions:

A Variety of Eye Colors by Matt Berger

A Variety of Eye Colors by Matt Berger. Brood V.

Gray Eyed Cicada Up Close by Matt Berger

Gray Eyed Cicada Up Close by Matt Berger. Brood V.

Molting Cicadas:

Magicicada with White Eyes:

More videos.

May 21, 2016

Brood V 17-Year Cicadas Due in Spring of 2016

Filed under: Brood V | Magicicada | Periodical — Dan @ 7:00 pm

Brood V will next emerge in 2033.

This page was last updated in 2016.

Brood VBrood V (5) 17-year cicadas have emerged, this spring of 2016, in Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia & West Virginia.

Latest Updates:
(7/4/16): It’s a wrap! I’m sure there are some periodical cicadas hanging on out there, but for the most part, the emergence should be over. I hope you had fun.

(6/26/16): By now you should see (and hear) sharp declines in cicada populations. They’ll be gone in most places by July 4th. You should start to see Flagging of tree limbs where the cicadas lay their eggs. This is a natural part of the process.

New: Use our checklist to keep track of your Brood V experience!

Gene Kritsky has updated his book “In Your Backyard: Periodical Cicadas“. It is available for the low price of $4.99 for Kindle and Kindle readers. Totally worth it.

About Brood V:

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 1999.

When: Generally speaking, these cicadas will begin to emerge when the soil 8″ beneath the ground reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit. A nice, warm rain will often trigger an emergence. So, definitely May, but something might happen in April if we have a particularly hot spring.

Locations where they are likely to emerge:

This data comes from the Cicada Central Magicicada Database and other sources.

Although the cicadas will emerge in MD, NY, OH, PA, VA, and WV, the area is limited and patchy. No Brood V cicadas for D.C., Cincinnati, or NYC (people have asked). Their range is closer to this map (with cicadas in the orange areas):

Brood V range

Maryland:

Counties: Garrett.

New York:

Specific locations in L.I.:

  • Wildwood State Park – Confirmed!

Counties: Suffolk (Long Island).

Ohio:

Specific locations in Ohio:

  • The emergence should be good in the south eastern part of the state and in Summit, Medina, and southern Cuyahoga counties1.
  • Hocking State Forest, Hocking county, which is where James Edward Heath performed his investigation of periodical cicada Thermal Synchronization2.
  • Tar Hollow State Forest, in Laurelville, Hocking County, Ohio.
  • Strouds Run State Park, in Canaan Township, Athens County.
  • Athens, Athens County, Ohio
  • Findley State Park, Lorain County, Ohio.

Counties: Ashland, Ashtabula, Athens, Belmont, Carroll, Columbiana, Coshocton, Crawford, Cuyahoga, Fairfield, Franklin, Gallia, Geauga, Guernsey, Harrison, Hocking, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Knox, Lake, Lawrence, Licking, Lorain, Mahoning, Medina, Meigs, Muskingum, Noble, Ottawa, Perry, Pickaway, Pike, Portage, Richland, Ross, Sandusky, Scioto, Seneca, Stark, Summit, Trumbull, Tuscarawas, Vinton, Washington, Wayne

Thanks to Roy Troutman, John Cooley, Chris Simon and Gene Kritsky for the tips!

Pennsylvania:

Counties: Allegheny, Fayette, Greene, Somerset, Washington, Westmoreland

Virginia:

Specific locations in Virginia:

  • Douthat State Park, in Bath & Allegheny County Virginia.

Counties: Allegheny, Augusta, Bath, Highland, Richmond, Rockingham, Shenandoah

West Virginia:

Counties: Barbour, Boone, Braxton, Brooke, Cabell, Calhoun, Clay, Doddridge, Fayette, Gilmer, Grant, Greenbrier, Hampshire, Hancock, Hardy, Harrison, Jackson, Kanawha, Lewis, Marion, Marshall, Mason, Monongalia, Nicholas, Ohio, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Preston, Putnam, Raleigh, Randolph, Ritchie, Roane, Taylor, Tyler, Upshur, Webster, Wetzel, Wirt, Wood

Learn more about Brood V:

For historical purposes, Here’s C. L. Marlatt’s map from 1914:

Marlatt, C.L.. 1914. The periodical cicada in 1914. United States. Bureau of Entomology. Brood Map for Brood V.
Marlatt, C.L.. 1914. The periodical cicada in 1914. United States. Bureau of Entomology

1 Kritsky, G., J. Smith, and N. T. Gallagher. 1999. The 1999 emergence of the periodical cicada in Ohio (Homoptera: Cicadidae: Magicicada spp. Brood V). Ohio Biological Survey Notes 2:43-47.

2 Thermal Synchronization of Emergence in Periodical “17-year” Cicadas (Homoptera, Cicadidae, Magicicada) by James Edward Heath, American Midland Naturalist, Vol.80, No. 2. (Oct., 1968), pp. 440-448.

* The map is based on this map from the Wikimedia Commons by Lokal_Profil.

Why do some cicadas have shriveled up or damaged wings?

Filed under: FAQs | Molting — Dan @ 5:00 pm

You might notice that some cicadas have shriveled-up or otherwise damaged wings. Most of the time, wings become damaged during the molting process (ecdysis), specifically while their wings harden (sclerotize). Their wings and body are most vulnerable when they are still soft.

Hang Time

Some reasons why a cicadas’s wings might not get the chance to inflate and harden:

  1. If a cicada molts and its wings are not able to hang downward they won’t inflate with fluids and form properly.
  2. Cicadas often trample each other in the rush to find a place on a tree to molt.
  3. Harsh weather, like wind and rain, knock them to the ground or bend their wings when they’re soft.
  4. Pesticides
  5. Malnutrition.
  6. Physical weakness or defects.
  7. Fungi infection.
  8. Predator attacks.


Reasons 1 and 2 are due to humans reducing cicada habitat (forests & fields) and replacing the habitat with buildings, streets, sidewalks, etc. Yes — you are the problem :). But — you are also the solution. The best paper on this is “Faulty Eclosion in Crowded Suburban Periodical Cicadas: Populations Out of Control” by JoAnn White; Monte Lloyd; Jerrold H. Zar (https://www.jstor.org/stable/1937659?seq=1).

Stuck

Just 10 Magicicada (American periodical cicadas) generations ago, the U.S. was mostly forest. Back then it was easy to find a vertical surface to molt on, or a plant stem to hang from. Today most forests have been replaced with agriculture, buildings, lawns, roads, sidewalks, parking lots, etcetera — so it has become increasingly difficult for periodical cicadas to find a good place to hang.

Magicicada can afford to lose a large number of their population due to wing malformations and other critical defects because there are simply so many of them — this loss falls in line with their predator satiation strategy.

However, if Magicicada cicadas lose too much habitat, they will go extinct (brood XI went extinct about 60 years ago). Lawns, roads, sidewalks, and other features of our human habitat create surfaces that are insalubrious for cicada molting.


Here’s a good photo by Jim Occi:

Adult Brood II Magicicada septendecim from Westfield NJ by Jim Occi


In the video below, you will see a cicada molting. Note that its wings are able to hang downward and inflate to form properly shaped wings. If the cicada tried to molt on a horizontal surface, the odds are its wings would be crumpled.


In the image below, there is a Neotibicen tibicen (not a periodical cicada) that sclerotized (hardened) before completely shedding its nymphal skin.

Marvin. Didn't make it all the way out of its old skin. :(
Although adorable, this Neotibicen will never sing or fly.

May 19, 2016

The anatomy of a freshly molted cicada

Filed under: Anatomy | Magicicada | Video — Dan @ 6:19 pm

This video points some of the anatomical features of a freshly molted Magicicada, like it’s tarsal claws, rostrum, clypeus, stylets, and spiracles.

The video was made with Camtasia and Pixelmator — nothing fancy; just a quick video for people experiencing molting cicadas for the first time.

Keeping cicadas for a short period of time

Filed under: FAQs — Dan @ 12:44 pm

We previously discussed raising cicadas from egg to adult. How about keeping adult cicadas for an hour, a day or more?

If you plan on keeping cicadas for a few hours, many containers will do. Just keep them in the shade, make sure the container is ventilated (has holes so air can flow in and out), and add a moist paper towel for a source of water & moisture.

I prefer to use Butterly Pavilions, which are small, expandable, portable enclosures. You can reuse them for other insects once the cicadas have gone.

Any Longer than a few hours, and you should make sure the cicadas have a source of fluids — the best source is a tree branch.

Temporary Cicada Enclosure

Cicada researcher & enthusiast Elias Bonaros shared his secrets for keeping adult cicadas alive. His record is 28 days for a Neotibicen auletes.

I usually used oak branches for above two species. I placed them into a butterfly pavilion. I used a small spring water bottle into the enclosure and placed the end of the branch into it. Be sure to place some paper towel or cotton in the open spaces at the mouth of the bottle because I had some specimens walk into the bottle and drown! Our beloved cicadas are not too bright.

I have never tried the sapling although that would seem the best as the tree can generate its own xylem pressure.

I change the branch every day vs every other day. Every third day is not good.

Takes a lot of work.

Another idea is to surround a branch of a live tree with netting, and place them in that — the same type of netting you would use to keep them off a branch will keep them on it.

The advantage of a Butterfly Pavilion is you can keep the cicada inside your home or lab.


« Newer PostsMore »

Cicada T-shirts