A New Variety of Tibicen lyricen?
News Category: Cicada General Info
A New Variety of Tibicen lyricen?
9:30 pm - Back again and as usual, I check my favorite Ash trees. I find nothing on the first one. However, I find 2 nymphs on the second Ash tree. Seems to be two different species as one is bigger than the other. I'll assume one is T. lyricen and one is T. canicularis. I am noticing this a lot lately. I am finding different species on the same tree. One can conclude that Cicadas must be co-existing under ground on the root system of the same host tree as juveniles.
I do a quick search of other trees and find 3 additional nymphs on pine trees and one newly emerged T. lyricen female. Maybe St. Patrick's isn't quite played out yet.
So I head home with a total of 5 nymphs. This is truly a record find. The previous was 3 nymphs back on July 31st.
I come home and ran into my neighbor Judy. It's about 10:30 pm and I show her the newly emerged T. lyricen Cicada and I explain to her all about Cicadas and their life-cycle. She seems totally interested and fascinated by them. She especially liked how delicate they are.
I showed her the nymphs in the mason jar and she was totally amazed at them. I look into the jar and discover one of the smaller T. canicularis has somehow molted inside the jar and is just laying on the bottom. The other nymphs are just walking all over it and each other. They seem to be a tumbled mass of nymphs. The little T. canicularis that molted didn't make it past one day of life.
The thumbnails below are examples of male T. lyricen Cicadas that almost didn't make it either. When I collected them I had a dead branch set up in my house for them to molt on. The one on the right - when it was emerging from the exuvum - I noticed that there was a twig that was going to interfere with his left wing during the expansion process so I had this bright idea that I was going to just "snip" the twig in order for this not to happen.
I attempted to cut the twig with a pair of garden snips and the whole branch fell over spilling both Cicadas out of their shells and onto a carpeted floor! I was in shock and cursing myself for being so stupid. I was devastated!
"You killed them!" I thought. "What a stupid stupid man you are!" Don't laugh but I felt like crying (and I'm 40 years old) I was so upset.
The nymphs were at the point where they were virtually hanging up-side-down and only their abdomens were still in the exuvium similar to the one in the thumbnail to the extreme left below.
When they spilled onto the floor they spilled out of their exuvium too! I thought they were dead. I gently picked them up and being careful not to touch the wing buds laid them on my desk on their backs. They laid there and didn't move for 15 minutes as if they were dead. "Yep, you killed them you friggin idiot". I thought.
I studied them closely. After a while, they started to move their legs! They were still alive!! So I gently allowed them to grasp a tiny twig. I then gently propped the twigs up at an angle and allowed them to hang there and watched for an hour. Everything went fine, their wings expanded properly and they were OK!! They were whole and complete all six legs too!!
I have learned some key things this evening with having 5 nymphs in the same jar. If you must take so many nymphs, at least keep them separated. In that way they won't injur each other.
A New Variety of T. lyricen Noted!
See the two cicadas in the middle photo? If you study the cicada on the left in that photo, you will see that it is slightly different than the one on the right. It's nearly completely black with only a prominant brown marking on the pronotum. (Area behind the eyes). This is due to some sort of repressed gene which is giving it this strange coloration. William T. Davis wrote about this variety back in the 1920's and he indicated that these Tibicen lyricen cicadas are a type of sub-species known as Tibicen lyricen var. engelhardti. However, recently another cicada researcher says that these varieties should be synomimized with regular T. lyricens due to the fact that they can be found within the same populations as regular T. lyricens and that a repressed gene is not an indication of a sub-species. However, as of the writing of this article it would still seem that these are still being characterized as a sub-species.