Martha's Vineyard Cicadas 2006
News Category: Cicada Missions
Martha's Vineyard Cicadas 2006
Update 3/25/11: - The species name Tibicen chloromera has officially been changed to Tibicen tibicen.. This article has been edited to reflect that change.
Well, I tell you, studying cicadas in Massachusetts get's rather mundane after awhile. Since I have only heard and caught in Massachusetts Tibicen canicularis and Tibicen lyricen cicadas. Don't get me wrong, I know for a fact that there are other species here as well. Those being Okanagana rimosa and the Magicicadas (Brood XIV will be emerging in Barnstable and Plymouth counties in 2008). But these latter two, I have yet to obtain any live specimens.
In addition, not to take away from Connecticut which so far I have managed to document, T. canicularis, T. chloromera Tibicen tibicen, T. linnei (sound recordings), T. lyricen and T. auletes (sound recording from Mike Neckermann). I feel that there has to be more than just two annual species here in Massachusetts. For instance back in 2005 in August, I heard and recorded a T. chloromera Tibicen tibicen specimen right in my very own back yard! However, this may have been just a satellite male but it got me asking questions about the possibility of other species here.
Then this spring I obtained a paper written in 1928 from the Boston Society of Natural History. The author of this paper escapes me at present but in this paper is the following:
"The large Tibicen auletes is a southern species that has been found at New Haven, CT., Martha's Vineyard, Naushon Island and Brant Rock, Mass. It was quite common in the woods near Edgartown, August 22, 1912, but difficult to capture."
This little blurb really piqued my interest. Because of this, I had already investigated Brant Rock, which is on the South Shore of eastern Massachusetts.
Unfortunately, I didn't have much luck. Still, I was un-deterred. I decided to book a camp site and a ferry ride over to Martha's Vineyard to investigate. I will only be spending four days so not much sight-seeing of the tourist traps this time around. Well, I guess hiking in the woods on an island could be considered sight-seeing but for some reason there's no money in it for the island.
The following is an account of my adventure on Martha's Vineyard which is my first visit I might add.
August 10th, 2006 - Arrival
It took two and a half hours to get from North Chelmsford, Ma down to Woods Hole in order to catch the ferry for a 9:30 am crossing. I should've been exhausted but I was quite excited. This will be by first time on Martha's Vineyard.
I arrived on Martha's Vineyard around 10:30 am. It was still too early to check in at the campsite (checkin was 2:00 pm). I decided that I would go explore. The first thing I noticed was that the major roads are not marked. Only the streets that branch off are marked so needless to say I instantly got lost. But again, this wasn't a problem because as far as islands go, you really can't get all that lost especially when equipped with a topographical map and a hand-held gps so I was fine.
Along the coast of the island is pretty windy and there doesn't seem to be any cicadas calling here but that just could be that it is a bit too early. As I move further inland, all I can here is the familiar call of Tibicen lyricens. I'm very excited to hear this species here. It makes one wonder how the heck they got out here on an island! Maybe they've just always been here.
An Unexpected Surprise!
In the Vineyard Haven area, I happened upon one of my favorite sites for finding cicadas, a cemetery between Pine Tree Road and W. Spring Street so I decided to investigate. The Tibicen lyricens were calling quite loudly here when all-of-a-sudden I looked up on this large oak tree around 10 feet up on the trunk was a rather large exuvia. I pulled out my net with extension poles and gently got it down. Man! This thing is huge! This is a good sign. This definitely looks like the exuvia of a Tibicen auletes for sure. And a male no less! Click the thumbnail above and to the left for a closer look.
For size comparison, I have placed this exuvia in the palm of my hand next to the exuvia of a Tibicen chloromera Tibicen tibicen that I recently obtained when I vacationed in July in West Viriginia. Hopefully, this will give you an idea as to just how large this thing truly is.
Tibicen auletes Definitely Here!!!
As I was walking around and admiring my new exuvia prize I couldn't believe my ears. I heard the distinctive call of a male Tibicen auletes! It was high up in a tree in the cemetery. Once you hear one of these, you'll never forget it let me tell you. This is definitely an excellent time to be here. Could it be possible that I may actually capture a specimen? After all, in that paper, it stated that they were very difficult to capture. I can't believe my luck. The last documented sighting of T. auletes on Martha's Vineyard was in 1912! At least as far as I know. Click the thumbnail above and to the right to see if you can here it's call. Time was around 1:00 pm in the afternoon!
Time To Set Up Camp.
So far this is really turning out to be an excellent day. I've heard T. lyricen and a few scatterings of T. canicularis, I have discovered an exuvia that definitely looks like T. auletes and now the calling song of a male specimen! I think now I will try to head over to the campground and set up camp and maybe get in a few hours hunting after setting up.
While setting up camp, I called my fiance to tell her the news and I also called my friend Mike Neckermann. He was very excited and then another T. auletes male started calling in the trees directly across from my campsite! It took several hours to set everything up. It sucks when you're by yourself. I even brought my light traps in the hopes of maybe attracting a cicada. So far I have not had any luck with my traps but hopefully my luck will change during this trip. Click the thumbnail above and to the left to get a look at the camp site setup. See the tarp over my tent? This sure came in handy let me tell you.
Setting up goes a lot slower when you are trying to set things up that really require two people but eventually, I got everything together on my own. I had already made friends with a family from the campsite to the right of me. They were from Schenectidy, Ny and were camping for 12 days. They seemed like really nice people.
Off On The Hunt Again!
It was around 6:00 pm when I finally made it out from the campsite to cicada hunt again. When the sun reaches a certain point, the temperature starts to drop off. I am not hearing any T. auletes calling but I am still hearing T. lyricen and the occassional T. canicularis.
I head on over to the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest. It consists of 5100 acres of land right smack in the middle of Martha's Vineyard and was established in 1908. It contains a lot of scrub oak (a short oak tree) as well as tall pines with a scattering of other types of deciduous trees. The soil all over the island is sandy which from what I have learned is ideal for T. auletes. Unfortunately, in this area I didn't hear any calling but I did manage to discover a T. canicularis female molting on a tall pine.
I spent the remainder of the day back at the Cemetery on Pine Tree Street. There were lots of T. lyricen calling and I again heard the call of T. auletes. I had my large net out but was unsuccessful in catching any cicadas.
I decided to make it an early night. I went back to the camp site and started a nice campfire and had a few brewskis then off to bed I went.