Cicadas of Nantucket Island
News Category: Cicada Missions
Cicadas of Nantucket Island
Due to my great success at surveying the Cicadas on Martha's Vineyard in 2006, I got to wondering if it was at all possible that there may be cicadas on Nantucket Island. Afterall the habitat is probably identical to that on Martha's Vineyard.
In addition, after searching for months for information on the cicadas of Nantucket Island, I was coming up short. I contacted all the professionals that I know of who study cicadas. I searched through countless papers dating back to the 1900's and I could find no information on cicadas for Nantucket Island.
I decided that I would plan a trip to Nantucket for next year.
Where is Nantucket?
Nantucket Island is located approximately 30 miles off the southern coast of Cape Cod. It also comprises two smaller islands off the western edge of the main island known as Tuckernuck and Muskeget. You can get there by taking either the Hyline or Steamship Authority Ferries. It was formed when the last North American Glacier receided many thousandds of years ago.
Through my regular 9 - 5 job I met a business acquaintance who happened to live on Nantucket Island. I told him of my interest in acquiring information on the Cicadas of Nantucket Island. He managed to put me in touch with Dr. Bob Kennedy, Natural Science Director for the Maria Mitchell Association.
When I emailed Bob, he suggested that I apply for a grant through the Nantucket Biodiversity Initiative program. They will give you up to $1500.00 for expenses and if possible you can actually stay on Nantucket Island for free.
So I submitted my proposal which was approved and I was on my way to Nantucket Island. Below is an account of my 1 week stay from August 18 to 25, 2007.
August 18th, 2007 - Arrival
08/18/07 - I arrived early on Nantucket and immediately checked in at the Maria Mitchell Museum just on the outskirts of downtown Nantucket. I met Andrew McKenna as well as others. After discussing probable places where cicadas may be I set out to see what I could find on the island.
My first stop was at one of the Nantucket Island Land Bank Commission’s areas known as Area A. It is off of Hummock Pond Road. While it was a bit breezy it was still a nice and sunny day. One of the first things I did was turn over a downed log (to see if I could find some nymphs) but all I found was a few Eastern Red-backed Salamanders.
I found other fauna as well like this Green Darner Anax junius and some skippers. I was disappointed at not hearing any cicadas calling though. This area seemed to be ideal habitat because of the copses of deciduous and pine tree stands over sandy soil everywhere but nothing was heard calling and there were no exuvia to be found.
This area also has wide expanses of tall grass meadows bordered by low bushes. The tall grass meadows were interesting and many stridulating insects could be heard. I have recently learned of a little grass cicada in Virginia known as Cicadetta calliope. Due to the pristine habitats here on Nantucket this would be an ideal setting for this little grass cicada but none were found. I suspect that I may have arrived on the island a bit too late because Cicadetta calliope are known to emerge around the end of May and dont really stay around all that long.
Area A is loaded with walking trails and borders Hummock Pond which pretty much stretches from the northern point of the island almost all the way to the ocean in the south. Walking along the trails I saw lots of flying grasshoppers including this pair mating. Look at how large the females are compared to the males.
Below is a nice closeup head shot of a Green Darner that I caught with my net. Click the thumbnail below for a closeup view.
Cicadas are here! T. lyricen heard calling.
I went back to Maria Mitchell and was surprised to hear the calling of Tibicen lyricen right on Vestal Street outside the Maria Mitchell Museum. Well, it looks like the questions of whether cicadas are on Nantucket have been answered. They are here, now the question is, how did they get here and exactly how many other species are here?