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April 18, 2020

Davis’ Key to Species of the Genus Tibicen found in the Southeastern United States

Davis provided a key of cicadas that belong to the then genus Tibicen in his 1918 article Mississippi Cicadas, with a Key to the Species of the Southeastern United States from volume 26 of the Journal of The New York Entomological Society. Download it from archive.org. This guide works for the Northeast and Midwest as well.

Mississippi Cicadas

Since 1918, genus and some species names have changed, so I’m going to present the key here, with highlighted notes on the updated names + images (when I have them). I’ll try to replicate the formatting of the original document as best I can.

Here goes…

Key to Species of the Genus Tibicen found in the Southeastern United States [works for most states east of the Rocky Mountains].

Note: the cicadas in the key are now organized in three genera: Neotibicen (A B), Megatibicen (A BB), and Diceroprocta (AA).

A. Large, heavy-bodied species; head broad, uncus [male genitals] simple, and first cross vein in the fore wings starting from radius 3 far back or about one-third distant from base of the first marginal cell.

     B. Uncus longer than broad. Black species with green or greenish markings and black area on the central part of the abdomen beneath, except in sayi [sayi = Neotibicen tibicen tibicen], and new variety of davisi [new variety of davisi = Neotibicen davisi harnedi].

Note: this group of cicadas (B) are now organized under the genus Neotibicen, not Tibicen.

         C. Hind margin of pronotum or collar, green or greenish.

             A narrow irregular area of black on the under side of the abdomen; opercula short and broad, and usually in the males an attenuated, pruinose [frosty white] stripe each side on the dorsum of segment three … pruinosa (Say). [pruinosa = Neotibicen pruinosus pruinosus].

N. pruinosus

Neotibicen pruinosus pruinosus
photo by Paul Krombholz.

             Dorsum of abdomen with the hind margin of the segments more or less brown and generally but a trace of pruinose stripe each side on segment three … pruinosa var. winnemanna (Davis) [pruinosa var. winnemanna = Neotibicen winnemanna].

[Generally speaking, east of the Appalachian mountains, you’ll find Neotibicen winnemanna, and west, it’s Neotibicen pruinosus.]

Neotibicen winnemanna Garner NC
Photo of a Neotibicen winnemanna.

             Dorsum of abdomen shining black with a broad pruinose mark each side on segment three; blackened area on under side of abdomen more in the nature of an even stripe … pruinosa var latifasciata (Davis) [pruinosa var. latifasciata = Neotibicen latifasciatus].

             A longitudinal band of black on the under side of the abdomen, the opercula more lobate, and the margin of the front wings suddenly bent near the middle … linnei (Smith & Grossbeck) [linnei = Neotibicen linnei].

Neotibicen linnei
Photo of a Neotibicen linnei.

             A definite longitudinal band of black on the under side of the abdomen; head with the front rather prominent. Not a large species … canicularis (Harris) [canicularis = Neotibicen canicularis].

             An irregular band of black on the under side of the abdomen, head rounded in front; a rather small species … davisi (Smith & Grossbeck) [davisi = Neotibicen davisi davisi].

             Abdomen greenish centrally on under side, blackened area wanting, marginal cells of fore wings clouded … davisi var. harnedi new variety [davisi var. harnedi = Neotibicen davisi harnedi].

Krombholz Davisi compared
Photo by Paul Krombhold. Neotibicen davisi harnedi (left), Neotibicen davisi davisi (right).

        CC. Hind margin of pronotum or collar black or nearly so (except in sayi var. australis).

            D. Central area of the abdomen beneath black.

                 Opercula long and with the legs usually somewhat chest- nut colored ; the uncus when seen in profile forked, resembling the open mouth of a snake … similaris (Smith & Grossbeck) [similaris = Neotibicen similaris similaris].

                 Opercula much shorter, more rounded, and the black area on the under side of the abdomen in the nature of an even stripe. Uncus not forked … lyricen (De Geer) [lyricen = Neotibicen lyricen lyricen].

                 Blacker than typical lyricen, lacking the considerable amount of fulvous markings on the pronotum and mesonotum. A fulvous somewhat anchor-shaped mark centrally on the pronotum … lyricen var. engelhardti (Davis) [lyricen var. engelhardti = Neotibicen lyricen engelhardti].

            DD. Central area of the abdomen not black beneath, often pruinose, as well as the long opercula.

                 Collar black, often with a greenish spot each side near the outer angles. … sayi (Smith & Grossbeck) [sayi = Neotibicen tibicen tibicen].

                 Collar all green or nearly so, as well as the pronotum and mesonotum … sayi var. australis (Davis) [sayi = Neotibicen tibicen australis].

    BB. The uncus is broad at the base, triangular in shape, and generally about as broad as long. Opercula broad and rounded at the extremities no definite black area on the central part of the abdomen beneath, usually unicolorus.

Note: this group of cicadas (BB) are now organized under the genus Megatibicen, not Tibicen.

         E. Wings long and narrow, collar 2 mm. or less in breadth at central portions ; dorsum of abdomen black or nearly so.

             Basal cell of fore wings rusty in color, anal cells (membranes) of both pair of wings gray; usually expands 110 mm. or more … resonans (Walker) [resonans = Megatibicen resonans].

Neotibicen resonans photos by Joe Green from 2007, taken in Florida.
Photo of a Megatibicen resonans by Joe Green.

             Basal cell of fore wings often black or nearly so, anal cells of both pair of wings yellowish. Expands about 100 mm … figurata (Walker) [figurata = Megatibicen figuratus].

M. figurata
Photo of a Megatibicen figuratus by Paul Krombholz.

         EE. Wings broad, hind margin of the pronotum or collar green or greenish and more than 2 mm. broad.

             F. Anal cells or membranes at base of fore and hind wings gray.

                 Dorsal segments of the abdomen not margined with brown ; in fresh specimens the basal segments pruinose, also the terminal segments, leaving the four middle segments black. A large species expanding over 110 mm. … auletes (Germar) [auletes = Megatibicen auletes].

Megatibicen auletes, the largest cicada in North America
Photo of a Megatibicen auletes.

             FF. Anal cells or membranes at base of fore and hind wings light orange, two prominent marks on the mesonotum resembling the Hebrew letter resh inverted.

                 Fore wings with the first and second cross veins clouded, and the dorsum of the abdomen brownish or brownish black … resh (Haldeman) [resh = Megatibicen resh].

Megatibicen resh molting adult
Photo of a Megatibicen resh.

                 Fore wings with the first and second cross veins but faintly or not at all clouded and the abdominal segments margined posteriorly with brown. In fresh specimens there is usually a median row of white spots on the dorsum of the abdomen … marginalis (Walker) [marginalis = Megatibicen pronotalis walkeri].

Megatibicen pronotalis photo by Roy Troutman, taken in Batavia, Ohio
Photo of a Megatibicen pronotalis walkeri by Roy Troutman.

AA. Small species; wings starting from about the middle of the first marginal cell.

Note: this group of cicadas (AA) are now organized under the genus Diceroprocta, not Tibicen.

     G. First and second cross veins of fore wings clouded.

         Expanse of wings about 90 mm … biconica (Walker) [biconica = Diceroprocta biconica].

         Expanse of wings about 60 mm … olympusa (Walker) [olympusa = Diceroprocta olympusa].

Diceroprocta olympusa photos by Joe Green from 2007.
Photo of a Diceroprocta olympusa by Joe Green.

     GG. First and second cross veins of fore wings not clouded, wings clear throughout and expanding about 70 mm.

         Head rather large, front rounded, collar greenish or yellowish and contrasted in color rather sharply with the brown and black of pronotum and mesonotum … viridifascia (Walker) [viridifascia = Diceroprocta viridifascia].

         Head proportionately smaller than in the last ; front more pro- truding;- collar not so contrastingly colored and fore wings narrower … vitripennis (Say) [vitripennis = Diceroprocta vitripennis].


Diceroprocta vitripennis photo by Paul Krombholz.

and that’s all folks…

March 7, 2020

Molting Neotibicen cicada photos by Roy Troutman

Filed under: Cryptotympanini | Molting | Neotibicen | Roy Troutman | United States — Tags: , — Dan @ 11:09 am

Molting Neotibicen cicada photos by Roy Troutman from 2004. Probably Ohio. Looks like a Neotibicen tibicen tibicen.

Neotibicen tibicen tibicen (Morning Cicada) photos by Roy Troutman

Filed under: Cryptotympanini | Neotibicen | Roy Troutman | United States — Tags: , — Dan @ 11:02 am

Neotibicen tibicen tibicen (Morning Cicada) photos by Roy Troutman from 2004. Probably taken in Ohio.

They’re also called Swamp Cicadas.

Neotibicen tibicen tibicen (Morning Cicada) photos by Roy Troutman

Neotibicen tibicen tibicen (Morning Cicada) photos by Roy Troutman

March 2, 2020

Male Neotibicen tibicen molting

Filed under: Cryptotympanini | Molting | Neotibicen — Tags: — Dan @ 7:39 pm

Male Neotibicen tibicen molting. Other names for this cicada include: Morning Cicada, Swamp Cicada and formerly Tibicen chloromera or chloromerus.

March 1, 2020

My Neotibicen photos from 2004

Filed under: Cryptotympanini | Neotibicen — Tags: — Dan @ 9:20 am

My Neotibicen photos from 2004.

As I reupload all the images on my website, even the horrible low-rez images will be reuploaded. Why? It’s my website, and I like them.

This photo isn’t so bad. It’s Neotibicen exuvia (skins, shells) surrounding a coin:
Cicada skins

This photo is blurry, but there’s a Neotibicen tibicen (formerly Tibicen chloromera) in the shot.
Neotibicen tibicen

Another blurry photo. This shows a Neotibicen tibicen with wings damaged during the molting process.
Neotibicen tibicen with damaged wings

February 29, 2020

Vince Matson’s Neotibicen tibicen photos from 2005

Filed under: Neotibicen | Photos & Illustrations — Tags: — Dan @ 8:35 am

Vince Matson’s Neotibicen tibicen photos from 2005. Back in 2005 we called them Tibicen chloromerus. Location unknown.

Vince Matson's Neotibicen tibicen photos from 2005. Back in 2005 we called them Tibicen chloromerus.

Vince Matson's Neotibicen tibicen photos from 2005. Back in 2005 we called them Tibicen chloromerus.

Vince Matson's Neotibicen tibicen photos from 2005. Back in 2005 we called them Tibicen chloromerus.

Vince Matson's Neotibicen tibicen photos from 2005. Back in 2005 we called them Tibicen chloromerus.

Vince Matson's Neotibicen tibicen photos from 2005. Back in 2005 we called them Tibicen chloromerus.

Vince Matson's Neotibicen tibicen photos from 2005. Back in 2005 we called them Tibicen chloromerus.

September 3, 2018

Looking for adult cicadas at night

Filed under: Community Science | FAQs | Neotibicen — Tags: , , — Dan @ 8:25 am

Nighttime is often the best time to find cicadas.

Nymphs, generally speaking, emerge soon after sunset. When I look for nymphs, I wait until sunset and start looking around tree roots and on tree trunks. Sometimes it takes hours, but usually, I find one (or many).

Cicada Nymph:
Neotibicen auletes nymph

Adult cicadas are easiest to find on hot, humid nights in well-lit areas like parking lots and the sides of buildings. You will find them clinging to illuminated walls and crawling on sidewalks. They end up on the ground, often because they fly into the wall and stun themselves. On a hot humid night — 85F or above — I’ll find an excuse (usually frozen desserts) to check the walls of the local supermarket for cicadas.

Cicadas, like many insects, are attracted to (or confused by) lights. There are many theories as to why insects are attracted to lights, and the reasons why probably vary by species. My guess (and this is just a guess) is that cicadas can’t tell day from night, or daylight (sun) from artificial lights, and so they think they’re using light to navigate away from a dark area (a tree trunk, dense brush), and then get very confused because they never seem to get anywhere once they reach the source of the light. I wish I could ask a cicada why.

Prime nighttime cicada location: a well-lit building and macadam parking lot:
Nighttime prime cicada location

Cicadas can damage their skin and innards by fling into and bouncing off walls:
Nightime N linnei with wound

A Neotibicen tibicen clinging to a cinderblock wall:
Nighttime N tibicen on wall

A Megatibicen auletes crawling on an illuminated sidewalk:
Megatibicen auletes in Manchester NJ

If you go looking for cicadas at night, make sure you have permission to be where you plan to look. Don’t trespass, and have respect for other people’s property.

August 26, 2018

Tips for making a time-lapse video of a cicada molting

Filed under: Community Science | Molting | Neotibicen — Tags: — Dan @ 8:51 am

Molting Morning Cicada

Time-lapse videos of insects molting can be as visually fascinating as they are scientifically important. Cicadas are amongst the best insect subjects for time-lapse because they’re relatively large, and depending on where you live, easy to find.

Equipment you’ll need for your time-lapse video:

  1. Lights. I use cheap LED and fluorescent lights. Not enough light and you’ll end up with a grainy video. Too much light and you’ll over-expose the subject and miss some important details. You’ll need a stand or tripod for your lights as well.
  2. A tripod for your camera. You want your camera to be as steady as possible. Hand-holding the camera is not recommended. The molting process takes hours.
  3. A camera. Some cameras have a Time-Lapse mode, but you could also take a photo every 30 seconds or so and use software to assemble the photos into a video. A camera with a large view screen is recommended so you can make adjustments to the lighting and framing of the insect.
  4. A platform for your cicada/insect. If you film outside use the tree the insect decides to molt on. If you film inside, build a structure using tree branches, or other materials the nymph can anchor onto.
  5. Video editing software. Free software works fine, as long as it lets you compile a series of photos into a single video.

I made my own platform out of some driftwood and a 2×4 I had lying around. Cheap but effective. Cicadas need to hang perpendicular to the ground so their wings will properly expand, so your creation needs to allow for that. A lot of people simply use a roll of paper towel.

Rig for Filming cicadas

Skills you’ll need to practice

  1. Patience. Unless you’re a pro who films wildlife all the time, you might need a few tries to get it right.
  2. Learn how to use the Time-Lapse feature of your camera.
  3. Learn how to light a small subject like a cicada.
  4. The ability to stay up late. The entire molting process can take up to 5-6 hours, especially if you want to let the cicada’s wings and body harden a bit. Coffee or tea helps (you, not the cicada).

If you’ve never tried filming a cicada molting before, you can practice lighting, focusing and using the time-lapse features of your camera with a paper model of a cicada. Just draw a cicada onto a small piece of paper, and pin it to a tree. If you know origami, even better.

Finding a specimen

I begin looking for cicada nymphs about 15 minutes after sunset. I find them at the base of trees, or ascending tree trunks. If you plan on filming indoors, or on a custom platform, treat the cicada with care. Be very gentle, and place the cicada nymph in a spacious enclosure — preferably one that allows it to grip, and hang off the side. I transport cicadas in a pop-up butterfly pavilion/habitat — these portable enclosures are made for butterflies, but they work well for other insects, like cicadas. Don’t forget to release the cicada the following day as well.

The overall process for shooting indoors

  1. Set up your rig: platform, lights, camera. Make sure your camera has an empty memory card in it and is charged/plugged in. Make sure all the lights are working. Place a towel or something soft at the base of the platform, in case the cicada falls (it happens).
  2. Collect your specimen. Bring a flashlight and a butterfly pavilion (or similar container). Gently grab the cicada nymph with your fingers and place in the container. do not collect a cicada that has already begun molting. Take some (not a lot) of tree branches with you. You can use the branches to augment your platform.
  3. Place the cicada at the base of the platform. Let it explore and become comfortable. Place it back at the base of the platform if it falls or wanders off.
  4. Once the cicada is ready to molt, it will stay still for a while. This is a good time to get your camera in focus and lights in the right position.
  5. The skin of the back of the nymph will split — look and listen for that. Start time-lapse filming. Example.
  6. Re-frame the camera as necessary to capture the cicada’s wings as they inflate.
  7. An hour after the cicada’s wings move into place (see that happen), you can stop filming, and place the cicada into the safety of the butterfly pavilion — or on a tree outside.
  8. Return the cicada to the outdoors within 12 hours.
  9. Use video editing software to compile the time-lapse frames into a video. I set each frame to 0.2 seconds — experiment with the times.
  10. Add the species of the cicada, the location where you found it, and other comments to the video.
  11. Share your video with friends, family and the world.

More tips:

  • The process takes a long time — you might be up until 1 or 2 am in the morning. Be prepared for that.
  • Film some non-time-lapse video as well. There are key moments during the molting process that happen quickly, like when the cicada pulls its abdomen from its old skin. Having a video of that is nice.
  • Be prepared to adjust the framing and focus a few times during the shoot. Don’t adjust too much though — just if the cicada’s wings fall out of frame.
  • The cicada will double its overall size. Its wings will hang downward. Be prepared for that when you frame the shot.

Some results:

My latest time-lapse video:

Notice how I frame the video.

A non-time-lapse detail:

A video where I used a tree branch to make the molting look more natural

September 21, 2017

2017 Cicada Summer

Filed under: Neotibicen | News — Tags: , , , — Dan @ 8:48 pm

Today is September 21st, 2017 — the last day of Summer, in central New Jersey. Leaves of maple trees have started to turn scarlet and yellow. Oaks are dropping their acorns. The few, remaining Morning (Neotibicen tibicen tibicen) and Linne’s (Neotibicen linnei) cicadas sound decrepit and tired — like tiny breaking machines, low on fuel and oil. I found one dead Morning cicada lying on a sidewalk — its body crushed. Here in New Jersey, at least, the cicada season is all but over.

Molting Neotibicen tibicen tibicen in Little Silver, NJ. August 26st.

As cicada years go, this one had ups and downs. It wasn’t as awesome as 2016, but I can’t blame the cicadas.

Downs:

  • No group cicada hunts this year. My cicada hobby is much more fun when I can share it with other people.
  • A skunk took over my favorite spot for finding Morning Cicada nymphs.
  • I had to go on a business trip during what would have been the best weeks for finding nymphs.
  • I forgot to bring my good audio recording equipment to Titusville, NJ & Washington Crossing, PA, and only got so-so iPhone audio of the weird N. winnemanna there.

Ups:

  • I found a new Megatibicen auletes location in Highlands, NJ. The location is about 50 miles north of where I usually find them.
  • I found more Megatibicen auletes exuvia than ever at the Manchester, NJ location where my friends and I normally hunt for auletes. Normally I find one or two — this year I found dozens. I found no adult specimens, other than those singing in the trees at dusk.
  • I did find enough exuvia & Morning cicadas that I should be happy.

Here’s some images from this summer:

Neotibicen tibicen tibicen with bad wing. The indigo color is fascinating. August 9th.
Neotibicen tibicen tibicen with bad wing

A Neotibicen tibicen tibicen found during a lunchtime stroll. September 1st.
Neotibicen tibicen tibicen 5

A female Neotibicen canicularis or maybe pink N. linnei found in Little Silver, NJ. August 25th.
female Neotibicen canicularis

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