Okanagana rimosa Habitat Revisited
News Category: Cicada General Info
Okanagana rimosa Habitat Revisited
I went back again to my favorite Okanagana hunting spots but the weather is basically more of the same for June. Dreary and cloudy with very little sun. The week prior was mostly rain. I think I heard somewhere on the news that for the month of June, we only had three days of sunshine which is really bad. After talking with friends and relatives, it would seem that this weather has affected most of the northeast. Still though, despite all this it isn't raining and that's a good sign. The sun is definitely up there, I can see it behind the clouds and last week I spent the whole day here with pretty much the same conditions. The few times the sun came out, the cicadas started to sing and I hit it lucky again. I managed to snag two O. rimosa' singing in small pine saplings. I considered myself very fortunate.
To the left is a thumbnail which links to a larger picture showing the type of habitat that I have been successful in catching these cicadas. As you can see it's basically a pine barren area with power lines that cut through the forest consisting mostly of pitch pine trees, scrub oaks, a species of bush that I'm unfamiliar with and the place is loaded with blueberry bushes. During the quiet times of the day, I pick some to bring home to my girlfriend. The soil is also very sandy here and is an ideal habitat for Sphecius speciosus the eastern Cicada Killer.
The Montague Plains WMA is actually a managed area consisting of approximately 1500 acres where they do a series of controlled burns in order to maintain the pitch pine and scrub oak habitat. This helps in preserving the biodiversity. You can see this if you click on the thumbnail to the right. In the photo, the area on the right is untouched Pine and decidous forest while on the left the same forest has been thinned by controlled burning. The Montague Plains is said to have some very rare species of plants and animals. There is even a type of Warbler bird which is said to be rare in Massachusetts. At the plains it is making a comeback as several new nesting sites are currently being monitored by the Fish and Wildlife people. I have even had the priviledge of hearing it's unique crazy-sounding call.
Once the cicadas get up in those tall trees, you can pretty much forget trying to locate them. Their black and orange coloring makes them virtually impossible to see. Its when they are in the low pine saplings and brush at the edge of the forestline which is your best bet in snagging some. Click the photo to the left. As I come back here year after year, the saplings directly under the powerlines are small now but will no doubt have to be cut eventually, as I see a time when they will only grow bigger which will become a problem. It will probably mean that the area that I like to catch these cicadas will no doubt be gone with the clear-cutting or controlled burning which is no doubt scheduled not too far in the future.
Another thing that is great about the Montague Plains is that it is cut with a series of dirt roads and adjoining power lines. This enables one to cover a vast area pretty quickly by just hanging your head out the window while driving and listening for the cicada's unique call. I don't recommend you take just any vehicle because the roads can get washed out (especially with all the recent rains) and sometimes there are very deep puddles right in your path. That's why I like to take my cicada research vehicle. Only thing about this is having to wash it after every visit here. When there's been rain, I can count on mud being all over everything.