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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…

April 9, 2020

Neotibicen winnemanna (Davis, 1912) aka Eastern Scissor(s) Grinder

Filed under: Cryptotympanini | Neotibicen | United States | William T. Davis — Tags: — Dan @ 5:24 pm

Neotibicen winnemanna (Davis, 1912) aka Eastern Scissor(s) Grinder.

Neotibicen winnemanna Garner NC
Photo by Dan Mozgai. North Carolina.

N. winnemanna
Photo by Dan Mozgai. Titusville, New Jersey. Yes, the head is missing. 🤷 Note the brown coloring on the abdomen.

Song type: Call


Source: ©Insect Singers.

Video Playlist

Playlists contain multiple videos found on YouTube.

Name, Location and Description

Identification Key by Wm. T. Davis:1

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

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

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.

Classification:

Family: Cicadidae
Subfamily: Cicadinae
Tribe: Cryptotympanini
Subtribe: Cryptotympanina
Genus: Neotibicen
Species: Neotibicen winnemanna (Davis, 1912)

List of sources

  1. Davis, W.T. 1918. Mississippi Cicadas, with a Key to the Species of the Southeastern United States. Journal of The New York Entomological Society. Vol. XXVI. Read on archive.org.
  2. Full Binomial Names: ITIS.gov
  3. Common names: BugGuide.net; The Songs of Insects by Lang Elliott and Wil Herschberger; personal memory.
  4. Locations: Biogeography of the Cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) of North America, North of Mexico by Allen F. Sanborn and Polly K. Phillips.
  5. Descriptions, Colors: personal observations from specimens or photos from many sources. Descriptions are not perfect, but may be helpful.

Notes:

  • Some descriptions are based on aged specimens which have lost some or a lot of their color.

March 21, 2020

Neotibicen winnemanna from Garner, NC

Filed under: Cryptotympanini | Neotibicen | United States — Tags: — Dan @ 3:54 pm

A Neotibicen winnemanna (Eastern Scissor(s) Grinder) from Garner, NC. Photos by me (Dan Mozgai). Caught by Bill Reynolds.

Neotibicen winnemanna Garner NC #3

Neotibicen winnemanna Garner NC #4

Neotibicen winnemanna Garner NC

Neotibicen winnemanna Garner NC #2

July 9, 2017

Scissors Grinders

Filed under: Neotibicen — Tags: , , , , — Dan @ 12:21 pm

Back in the day — 1970s and earlier — people would sharpen scissors, knives, and tools rather than throw them out and buy new ones. A scissors grinder was a person who would sharpen your scissors for you. They used an abrasive wheel to grind your scissors sharp. The sound of the metal of a scissor gliding across the sharpening stone made a unique sound — a sound used to describe the sound some cicadas make.

These days (2017 when I wrote this article) scissors grinders are not a common sight or sound, but a few cicadas still have a common name referring to the scissor grinding days of yore. A few, but not all, are also Dusk Singers.

Neotibicen latifasciatus aka Coastal Scissor(s) Grinder Cicada. Found in FL, MD, NJ, NC, VA. Season: June – Fall. A day singer found along the coast.

N. latifasciatus Call*:

Neotibicen pruinosus pruinosus aka Scissor(s) Grinder. Found in AL, AR, CO, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MI, MN, MS, MO, NE, OH, OK, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, WV, WI. Season: June – September. Neotibicen pruinosus fulvus aka Pale Scissor(s) Grinder Cicada. Found in: KS, OK. Season: June – September. A Dusk Singer, very much like N. winnemanna but predominately west of the Appalachian mountains.

N. pruinosus Call*:

Neotibicen winnemanna aka Eastern Scissor(s) Grinder. Found in AL, DE, DC, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, NC, NJ, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV. Season: June – Fall. A Dusk Singer, very much like N. pruinosus but predominately east of the Appalachian mountains.

N. winnemanna Call*:

It’s worth mentioning two similar cicadas, that don’t bear the “Scissors Grinder” name, but either sound similar or hybridize with Scissor Grinders.

Neotibicen robinsonianus aka Robinson’s Annual Cicada or Robinson’s Cicada. This cicada’s call is similar to Scissor Grinders in rhythm, but it has a duller sound/lower pitch (IMHO). Maybe it should be called the “Dull Scissor Grinder” (that is a joke). Found: AL, AR, DC, FL, GA, IN, KS, MD, MS, MO, NC, OH, PA, TN, TX, VA. Season: June-Fall.

N. robinsonianus Call*:

Neotibicen linnei aka Linne’s Cicada sounds nothing like the Scissors Grinders, but it is known to hybridize with Scissor Grinders. Found: AL, AR, CT, DE, DC, FL, GA, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, NE, NJ, NY, NC, OH, ON, PA, SC, TN, VT, VA, WV, WI. Season: June – fall.

You might hear a hybrid Scissors Grinder with a call that features part of an N. Linnei call!

A pure (non hybrid) N. linnei Call for reference*:

The five cicadas mentioned on this page are part of a group informally known as the Green Neotibicen. They are closely genetically related.

*Audio files are Copyright of InsectSingers.com. Season information gathered from BugGuide.net.

July 5, 2017

The Dusk Singers

The Dusk Singers

Dusk is the time of day between sunset and night. Many species of Megatibicen & Neotibicen (formerly Tibicen) sing at this time. I’m not sure why they sing at this time — perhaps it helps them avoid audio competition with other singing insects, or perhaps it helps them avoid predators by calling at this specific time of the day.

If you find yourself outdoors in the eastern half of the U.S. after sunset and hear a cicada call, it is likely one of the following Megatibicen or Neotibicen species:

Megatibicen

Megatibicen are LARGE and LOUD cicadas.

Megatibicen auletes aka the Northern Dusk Singing Cicada. This cicada can be found in these states: AL, AR, CT, DE, DC, FL, GA, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MD, MA, MI, MS, MO, NE, NJ, NY, NC, OH, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV, WI. Season: July to Fall.

M. auletes Call*:

Megatibicen figuratus aka the Fall Southeastern Dusk-singing Cicada. Found in: AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, TX, VA. Season: July to Fall.

M. figuratus Call*:

Megatibicen resh aka Resh Cicada aka Western Dusk Singing Cicada. Found in: AR, KS, LA, MS, NE, OK, SC, TN, TX. Season: July to Fall.

M. resh Call*:

Megatibicen resonans aka Southern Resonant/Great Pine Barrens Cicada aka Southern Dusk Singing Cicada. Found in AL, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, TX, VA. Season: July to Fall.

M. resonans Call*:

Neotibicen

Medium-sized, green cicadas with calls that sound like the rhythmic grinding of a scissor on a sharpening wheel (not a common tool in the 21st century).

Neotibicen pruinosus pruinosus aka Scissor(s) Grinder. Found in AL, AR, CO, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MI, MN, MS, MO, NE, OH, OK, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, WV, WI. Season: June – September. Neotibicen pruinosus fulvus aka Pale Scissor(s) Grinder Cicada. Found in: KS, OK. Season: June – September.

N. pruinosus Call*:

Neotibicen winnemanna aka Eastern Scissor(s) Grinder. Found in AL, DE, DC, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, NC, NJ, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV. Season: June – Fall.

N. winnemanna Call*:

*Audio files are Copyright of InsectSingers.com. Season information gathered from BugGuide.net.

September 15, 2016

Last cicada hunt of the year

Filed under: Neocicada — Tags: , — Dan @ 7:31 pm

Once September rolls around in New Jersey (USA) temperatures start to drop, as do the cicadas. Labor Day weekend is a three day last hurrah for the summer. Folks have barbecues, take one last trip to the beach, or one last fishing trip to the lake. It’s one last chance to have some fun before the kids go back to school, the weather gets too cold to wear shorts, and hurricanes start ripping up the coastline. This past Labor Day weekend I found myself at Washington Crossing State Park in Titusville, NJ. You might have guessed that this park marks the location where founding father General George Washington famously crossed the Delaware River. I think of it was a place to find Neotibicen linnei and Neotibicen winnemanna in the same location.

Some video of their calls:

N. linnei and N. winnemanna belong to the “Green Group” of Neotibicen cicadas. All the cicadas in this group look very similar, and you have to tell them apart by their song or key morphological differences. Even with sound files of their songs to reference, photos and notes, telling them apart can be vexing and bemusing. In some cases species mate and form hybrids which make it even more difficult to tell them apart.

Some images:

A is likely an N. linnei, and C is likely an N. winnemanna.

wings of Linne and Scissor Grinder

Probably an N. linnei although it lacks the wing bend. More black than beige, although that isn’t always a sure indicator of species.
Washington Crossing Neotibicen linnei

Definitely an N. winnemanna because of all the beige on its abdomen. Yes, its head is missing,
N. winnemanna

After wandering the park for a few hours I was rewarded with a few dead specimens. One with eggs still stuck to its ovipositor, which was neat to see. I also recorded their calls — unfortunately no hybrids in the mix.

Part of the fun of traveling to see cicadas is visiting the place where the cicadas live. Washington Crossing State Park is far from the industry and urban decay New Jersey is known for. If you like scenic rivers, pastoral landscapes, American history, farmers markets, and antique stores, this area is for you. For me, it’s a nice place to observe cicadas. The park features many acres of deciduous and evergreen trees, perfect for cicadas. You can also walk the bridge to the Pennsylvania side of the river, where you’ll find more N. winnemanna than N. linnei.

Cicadas will be done mating before the end of September (actual date differs by location), and start dropping from the trees before the leaves being to change color. Go out this weekend and look and listen for the last cicadas of the year.

Oh yeah, here’s the B cicada:

N. winnemanna

October 25, 2015

Catching Cicadas in North Carolina

Filed under: Bill Reynolds | Neotibicen — Tags: , , , — Dan @ 12:51 pm

This past summer I had the opportunity to meet cicada expert Bill Reynolds. Bill manages the Arthropod Zoo at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The arthropod zoo in the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science

Bill’s specialty is Neotibicen (formerly Tibicen) cicadas. Neotibicen are a genera of broad-headed, medium-sized, well-cammouflaged cicadas that belong to the tribe Cryptotympanini.

I met Bill at the museum and allowed me to view his massive collection of Neotibicen — box after box of cicadas, all carefully pinned and labeled. See a small portion of Bill’s collection.

Megatibicen pronotalis:
Neotibicen pronotalis from Bill Reynolds collection #2

Later we went for lunch, and listened for N. winnemanna hybrids in the neighborhood surrounding the museum. Close to the entrance of the museum, we heard a cicada that started with the call of the N. winnemanna and ended with the call of N. linnei — likely a hybrid. Around the museum neighborhood we heard other cicadas that sounded like a N. winnemanna but not quite. Very interesting.

Personally, my methods of catching cicadas are: 1) waiting until dark and grabbing them when they are still nymphs or eclosing, 2) grabbing them by hand on a tree or in flight, or 3) waiting for them to die, and collecting them from the ground. Bill introduced me to two new methods: 1) netting cicadas, and 2) finding cicadas under lights in parking lots.

I own a net (purchased from BioQuip) but I haven’t practiced using it. Bill Reynolds is a master of spotting and netting cicadas. He uses a net with 3 or 4 extension poles, which I belive gives him a 20′ reach. Bill is a cicada netting ninja. In a small, roadside patch of trees he caught three N. winnemanna in a matter of minutes.

Here is a video of that grove of N. winnemanna patronized trees. (Listen, don’t watch. The video camera work is erratic and you won’t see any live cicadas):

Here is a N. winnemanna Bill caught with a net:
Neotibicen winnemanna Garner NC #2

Finding cicadas under parking lot lights require you to cruise shopping mall parking lots on hot summer nights. Wait until midnight, and slowly drive behind malls looking for cicadas clinging to walls or resting on the ground. It is simple as that.

Here is a N. lyricen engelhardti found by Bill.
Neotibicen lyricen engelhardti Raleigh NC #5

Whenever catching cicadas you should be respectful of private property, don’t cause a disturbance, and be mindful of local laws.

August 21, 2006

Auletes IS the biggest USA cicada!

Cicada researcher Kathy Hill took this unbelievable photo of 18 different USA Neotibicen & Megatibicen specimens, plus a Quesada gigas (upper right) for comparison.

Kathy Hill. Auletes is the biggest Tibicen

Click/tap the image for a much larger version. Contact Insect Singers for more information about the image.

I just took a photo of all the “eastern USA” Tibicens except
latifasciata, which we haven’t got yet (I didn’t include the “little
western” Tibicens like T. texana that are more centrally located
either). But I did also add T. duryi from the west coast and Q.
gigas, just for comparison.

I just wanted to prove that auletes IS the biggest USA cicada :)

Note that the these cicadas were reorganized into two new genera: Megatibicen (larger USA Tibicen) and Neotibicen (smaller USA Tibicen) since this original announcement in 2006.