Welcome to Another cicada season.
News Category: Cicada General Info
Welcome to Another cicada season.
That's right, this year (2007) I'll be starting up with the regular updates to this web site. I'm starting early this year because it is the year of Brood XIII Magicicadas (Periodical Cicadas) which will be happening in the mid-west. So, if you are from Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan or Wisconsin, be sure to write in and give us some reports. Last year I set up a Cicada and Cicada Killer sightings page for people to report their sightings. It has been a great success and I expect a greater number of reports this year.
New Method for Submitting Cicada and Cicada Killer Sighting Reports.
Over the winter, I designed an online form to make it easier for readers to submit their data that would best help with distribution mapping. This form will even allow you to submit an image of your cicada or suspected cicada killer. This form can be found to the right in the navigation column under "Report Cicadas" or you can click here to have a look.
Brood XIV - One Year To Go!
Following on the heels of Brood XIII in 2007, the second largest brood of 17 year Periodical Cicadas in terms of distribution, Brood XIV is scheduled to emerge in 2008. While Brood XIV consists of all three Magicicada species farther south, Massachusetts is said to be the northern - most range for Brood XIV's distribution and only consists of Magicicada septendecim.
Last year we received a report of a two (2) year early emergence of Brood XIV in Hingham, Mass. Click here to view the details. Two year early emergences are considered quite rare. However, one-year early emergences are more common. So if you live in Massachusetts and are out-and-about this year in Plymouth and Barnstable Counties, here are some signs to look out for which will indicate a Magicicada early emergence:
Cast-off nymphal skins - Exuvia as they are also known, look similar to the annual cicada skins, only lighter in color and smaller. Also you can start to look for Magicicada cast-off skins in early June as they will appear first before the annual cicadas do. Click the thumbnail to the right to see an example of a Magicicada skin from a 1 year straggling event in West Virginia in 2005. Look for them on tree trunks, vertical walls and underneath the leaves of trees.
Mud Chimneys/Mud Turrets - These are little "tubular" mounds of mud that extend upwards from the ground sometimes several inches. From information that I have gathered, it would seem that only Magicicada septendecim nymphs make these mud turrets. They make them to keep themselves dry. If the soil is too wet but the ground temperature isn't quite right for full emergence, they will make these mud turrets and hide inside them. Click the thumbnail to the left. This is of a periodical cicada nymph in the middle of constructing a mud turret.
To the right is a nice example of some Magicicada mud chimneys from the 1991 Brood XIV emergence. Big thanks goes out to Roy Troutman for the image. As you can see they are quite pronounced and should be easy to spot. Also note the cast-off nymphal skins and a piece of wing.
Dead Cicadas - Sometimes in an early emergence you may be able to see an accumulation of dead cicada bodies, nymphal skins and wings laying around the base of a tree. While light in comparison to a regular emergence you may still be able to spot them. Because of the off-year these early arrivals do not number many so they do not have the ability to satiate the local predator population and thus do not get the chance to reproduce and are usually wiped out by predators.
What's Happening for 2007?
There's lots of things happening this year related to the study of cicadas. This year is going to be perhaps the busiest year to date for me. This year I will be participating in many personal projects as well as helping out others in their cicada related projects. Below is a brief synopsis of what is happing this year.
Distribution Mapping of Brood XIII - Professor John Cooley works for the University of Connecticut's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in Storrs Connecticut. They received a grant from National Geographic for conducting behavioral and distribution mapping of Brood XIII in the mid-west. I'm sure that was no easy tasks because the eligibility requirements are tough.
Anyway, I was asked if I would like to come along to help with this project. I of course, jumped at the chance! This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me. One which I cannot just pass up.
Starting at the end of May, I will be with John and others helping on this important project. I will have my laptop computer along with high-tech tools so that I will be able to still to regular updates to the web site from the field.
Entomology-Cicadidae Group Meeting - During the emergence of Brood XIII, somewhere in the mid-west, a lot of the cicada enthusiasts who are members of my Cicadidae group are in fact planning to meet. People like Lester Daniels who runs the Great Lakes Cicada Page, Roy Troutman, who has contributed many photos and videos to this web site, Dan Century of Cicadamania is going along as well. Also my close personal friend, Joe Green who has sent me tons of cicadas from Florida and other southern points will be there.
While I'll probably be busy with John Cooley's group and the mapping project, I am hoping to break away for a few days to meet up with a lot of people from the group. I'm really looking forward to it.
Cicada Killer Study with Prof. Chuck Holliday - As you may or may not know, I have been studying a Cicada Killer Lek for the past several years at a small cemetery in Westford, Ma. and have been providing Professor Chuck Holliday of Lafayette University in Pennsylvania with specimens and observation data for the past two years. Well in mid-to late August of this year Professor Chuck Holliday will be coming here to study the Lek to have a look for himself. This lek seems to grow bigger every year!!
Chuck has asked me in the meantime, sometime in July to collect and pin 20 male specimens for him before he arrives. I'm sure that won't be a problem. I'll provide more info as the date draws closer.
Distribution Mapping of New England Cicada Species - Since 2005 I have been collecting data in order to update distribution maps of cicada species not only here in Massachusetts, but in all of New England. This can be a long and arduous process. I have managed to collect a lot of data so far with the help of other people as well.
Mike Neckermann and myself have been studying the distribution of Tibicen chloromera Tibicen tibicen in New England for the past two years, concentrating mainly on Connecticut. Well, soon we will be publishing a paper and I have been fooling around with some distribution mapping software.
Eventually I will have distribution maps of all species that I encounter in New England and they will be found to the right in the Navigation Column of the web site.
Okanagana In Massachusetts - This year like last year and the year before, has proved dismal for finding Okanagana cicada species here. Despite reports of Okanagana being in several different locations in Massachusetts, I have only found one example in Bedford Massachusetts in 2004 so my search still continues. I would like to find a well established population of Okanagana to study. Okanagana is considered "proto-periodical" with large emergences some years and light emergences in others. Maybe for the last 3 years have been a light emergence cycle.
Please read the page on Okanagana rimosa which can be found here and be sure, if you think you know where they are, to report it to me by filling in the report cicadas form. I would really appreciate it.
Nantucket Biodiversity Initiative - With my success at documenting several different species of Cicadas on Martha's Vineyard last year (of which 3 species have never before been written about [Paper forthcoming]), I was encouraged to apply for a grant for the Nantucket Island's Biodiversity Initiative.
The $1500.00 grant covers the cost of a ferry ride over from the mainland to the island and other incidentals. However, at the height of the summer season the ferry ride alone can be expensive, plus some individuals who qualify can get free housing. Another benefit since rents on the island can be thousands of dollars per week during the height of summer.
The mission of the Nantucket Biodiversity Initiative is a partnership between Nantucket conservation organizations, a few government agencies and individuals including independent researchers (like myself) who are interested in documenting the biodiversity of the islands and adjacent waters. You must of course meet certain eligibility requirements for the grant. So I figured "what the hey" I'll go for it. I wrote a proposal and was happy to find out that they agreed to pay for my ferry ride over plus the free housing!! For a guy like me that usually funds his own research, this is pretty sweet!
So, as you can see this year promises to be very exciting! I plan on going to Nantucket Island middle to the end of August. I sure hope it doesn't get cold there then. If all goes well, I figured this will be the ideal time to note any cicada activity.
Well, that's it for the itinerary for this summer. So please stay posted. Lots of new exciting things in the works.