The 2009 Cicada Season Has Arrived!
News Category: Cicada General Info
The 2009 Cicada Season Has Arrived!
Hey folks. I sincerely apologize for not putting up many posts last year. As you may or may not know, last year was a key year here in Massachusetts as far as cicadas go. Last year was the scheduled appearance of the Brood XIV 17 year periodical cicadas. You can read more on Brood XIV by clicking here or go to the Missions section for more information posted last year on this unique phenomenon.
Suffice it to say I was very busy studying these cicadas and much of my time was spent out in the field. This unfortunately created a cascading effect where too much information regarding my research began to overwhelm me, so much so that when the regular annual cicada season started I found myself in an extreme backlog of information.
Moving forward, I haven't forgotten about all the great field work that I did last year and the great people I met during the Periodical Cicada emergence and the Annual Cicada work at the Arnold Arboretum and at Woods Hole on Cape Cod, it's just going to take some time to get through it. This information will probably be housed in the Archives section and I'll let you know as I post new (old) information.
Massachusetts Cicadas in Transition
If you know me you know that every so once in a while I get tired of the way this site (and many other sites that I've developed in the past) start to look and feel. I'm always trying to come up with new and better designs to try to make this site better. To that end I am also in the middle of a site redesign. One that will make the site more visually appealing and easy to navigate and find information.
This is going to be a very slow process because I'll be adding a lot of new features. Features like blog commenting, streaming video and dynamically generated pages.
I hope to have the new site up beginning to end of fall. In the meantime, I will continue to update this version of the site for now, with new content for this year. I will eventually migrate all this content over to the new site.
Update 3/15/11: - If you are reading this you are now on the latest version of Massachusetts Cicadas. Let me know how you like it by contacting me via the contact us tab above.
First Cicada of the Season is Okanagana rimosus.
I'm really happy to know that Massachusetts has at least 6 species of cicadas. Some are more common than others but in the end, we do have at least 6 and they are:
1). Tibicen lyricen - common
2). Tibicen canicularis - common
3). M. septendecim (periodical cicada on Cape Cod and parts of Plymouth County and part of Brood XIV)
4). Tibicen tibicen (formerly T. chloromerus) - rare on Massachusetts mainland but thriving on Nantucket Island.
5). Tibicen auletes - reported in the 1920's at Brant Rock. Light populations found on Martha's Vineyard.
6). Okanagana rimosus - Reported Bedford, Concord, Melrose Highlands and North Saugus early 1900's. Found in Athol and Montague 2007 and subsequent years.
I first found O. rimosus here in Massachusetts in 2007 thanks to a great tip. Previously I was searching for this species based on old records mentioned above without much luck. In 2004 I did find an exuvia in Bedford at the Spring Brook Park Swimming Area. Subsequent visits to this location the following years turned up nothing though. Not to worry, I haven't given up on Bedford or Concord yet.
In 2007, I caught my first specimen at the Montague Sand Plains wildlife management area and have been returning ever since. However, I was curious as to this Cicada's adult life-cycle length because previously I would always make it to Montague at the end of June leaving only two weeks until they were all gone which is usually by the 1st week of July.
I decided to head out a few weeks earlier than normal because it didn't make much sense to me that the adult lifecycle of O. rimosus here in New England was only a total of two weeks. I suspected that it had to be a lot longer. I called my friend Chris the night before to see if he wanted to tag along. I've been getting Chris into Cicadas over the last year or two. Chris actually came on the scene when I was doing the Periodical Cicada research on Cape Cod. But since he started with me last year and I didn't do any updates, you don't know anything about him yet but hopefully this year I'm going to change all that.
When we arrived at the Montague Sand Plains, at first I was a bit disappointed because Chris and I weren't hearing anything. We arrived at 8:30 am so it was a bit on the cool side so we drove around to other areas but still, we weren't hearing a thing. I called David Marshall - post doctoral research associate at UCONN Storrs to pick his brain for a while. Dave and I have worked together in the past on periodical cicada distribution mapping and he's also a member of Massachusetts Cicadas' Entomology-cicadidae group to discuss why I wasn't hearing anything. After going over a few theories and talking about cicada stuff, we came to the conclusion that this year may be an off year for Okanagana in this area. After that we hung up. 10 minutes goes by and BAM I start to hear them call. Chris and I spent a good part of the day here and managed to capture one male specimen on a low dead bush and unfortunately I missed another. You'd think these little buggers would be easy to spot with those bright-orange markings but you'd be wrong. They blend in quite well with their surroundsings.
O. rimosus habitat
Eastern Okanagana rimosus seem to prefer Conifers with a few deciduous trees mixed in. This is based on the locations where I have been catching these for the past several years. In 2004 when I found my first O. rimosus exuvia was in a pine forest. The Montague Sand Plains is basically a Pine-Barren wasteland in central Massachusetts and is very similar in toplogy as Cape Cod and also has very sandy soil.
O. rimosus' call
O. rimosus has a very unusual calling song and I have heard that it is very similar to other cicadas of the same genus. Their high-pitched call and great camouflage makes them very difficult to localize. Calling generally starts by one male starting its call followed by several others joining in.
Their calling song almost sounds like the stridulating call of a katydid or even the noise that high-voltage wires exhibit when a high current of electricity is passing through them. Click the thumbnail above and to the left to watch a video of O. rimosus's call. This one was taken two years ago. Like periodical cicadas, male Okanagana call in captivity.
I'm glad that O. rimosus' adult life-cycle length is longer than just a couple of weeks. Next year I may actually try to come to this location as early as the last week in May to see if they are here. Based on some new information regarding other locations for O. rimosus in Massachusetts, I may actually take some time to search them out. If they turn out to be good spots I will report back and who knows, maybe I won't have to drive such a long distance to try to obtain specimens.