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Tibicen pruinosus Female from O'Fallon, MO

Sightings Category: Cicadas

Tibicen pruinosus Female from O'Fallon, MO

Attached are photos of what I believe to be a female T. canicularis. I am emailing you this sighting report instead of just using the form on your website because I wanted to upload more than just three pictures for you to examine.

The total length from nose to wingtips folded back is 4.3 cm. The body length is 2.7 cm. The outside eye-to-eye distance is 1.1 cm.

I tried including a metal ruler in the photos, however, because I had to get so close to the cicada, the flash kept bouncing off of the ruler and washing out the photographs. So, I decided to just leave the ruler out of the photos. Also of note with the photographs: The close-up flash photography has added a slight blue wash to the images. You might want to turn down the blue level a little bit in Photoshop, or some other image processing program, to get closer to the true colors.

Anyway, back to the cicada: At first, I thought it might be a T. davisi. However, upon closer examination, I noticed that the head is more triangular in shape than the T. davisi---kind of like the way the T. robinsonianus head is more triangular than the T. pruinosus---Anyway, given its small size and the shape of the head, it sure looks like a T. canicularis to my amateur eyes.

I have also attached a photograph with a male T. pruinosus I had on hand alongside the female T. canicularis(?) for a size comparison. I thought that might be of some value to your readers.

I found her late Sunday evening (31 JUL 2011) in the parking lot of one of the movie theaters around here. When I first saw her crawling on the pavement in the dark (she was in a less well lit area of the parking lot) and because of her small size, I thought she might be a late Brood XIX cicada. Of course, when I shined my flashlight on her to pick her up, I knew right away that that wasn't the case...

Anyway, when I got home, I put her in a butterfly cage along with the other cicadas I had collected that night. Unfortunately, the next morning when I went to retrieve her from the cage for further study and to take some photographs, I couldn't find her. It wasn't until yesterday (Wednesday, 3 AUG 2011) when I was cleaning out some debris from the butterfly cage that I found her lying dead in a curled up leaf. So, I gently extracted her and pinned her to some foam core to keep her from getting damaged while I studied and photographed her.

Date Posted: 2011-07-31 Comments: (5) Show Comments Hide Comments


Posted By: Massachusetts Cicadas | On: 2011-08-05 | Website:

Hi Bill,

Unfortunately, my photoshop skills are not the greatest so I wasn't able to remove the blue out of your photos but I did study these very carefully. I am hesitant to agree with your identification as Tibicen canicularis. While it is smaller, what is holding me back are the fine lateral black patches that partially bisect the pronotal collar and also the large lateral pruinose spots at the base of the abdomen.

I will have a colleague confirm but I'm going to go with an identification of Tibicen pruinosus first and possibly T. robinsonianus but I'm leaning more towards pruinosus.

The ventral stripe from what I can see of it is not black. It would be for canicularis or robinsonianus.

Also those large pruinose spots are something we do not usually see in T. canicularis nor do we see them in T. linnei.

Finally, while being small for T. pruinosus, that size is not uncommon in pruinosus females. I have many rather small pruinosus females in my collection of cicadas from Illinois and Kansas.

I am curious. Are you hearing the calls of T. davisi or T. canicularis in your area?

Posted By: Bill Meyers | On: 2011-08-05 | Website:

Yes, I think we are hearing T. canicularis or T. davisi cicadas around here. It kind of sounds like a circular Skilsaw or a high voltage transformer going bad, but a bit higher in pitch. Unfortunately, whenever I have heard them, I haven't had my video camera with me to record the audio so that I can play it back and compare it with the online cicada audio databases. Anyway, that's why I keep leaning towards T. canicularis whenever I happen across an anomalous cicada.

Also, yes, you are correct in that the ventral stripe is not solid black. Sorry about the fuzzy ventral photograph; I see that I accidentally attached the wrong ventral photograph in my email to you. I have a much sharper ventral image that I meant to send, but I obviously messed up somewhere along the way.

Also, something not touched upon in my email:

From above, there appears to be a slightly off-white spot directly on the top of the last tergite (or, is it the second to last?). My eyes aren't what they used to be when I was younger and I can't seem to find a decent jeweler's loop right now, but it appears to be tergite #7 by my count (but, I could be off and it might be #8). If you look at the fourth photo in the series, you can see it fairly well.

Of course, I don't know if that helps you any with the identification, but I thought it was kind of unusual and I just figured I'd point it out.

Hm... A better idea; let me box up the mystery cicada and send her off in the mail to you. That would probably be the best way to get to the bottom of this little conundrum.

Anyway, I'll try to get to the post office within the next couple of days and send her off to you.


Bill M.

Posted By: Bill Meyers | On: 2011-08-08 | Website:

Grrr... Okay, the sound that my wife and I thought was possibly a T. canicularis or T. davisi cicada turned out not to be a cicada at all.

I heard it this evening and climbed up a tree to see what was making all that noise. It turned out to be a "False Robust Conehead Katydid."


Anyway, yes, I know that the NY Entomological Society in 1952 dropped T. canicularis from Missouri's list of cicadas due to an inability to collect any specimens. However, Philip Reese Uhler had them listed as part of Missouri's cicada population back in the late 1800s. Right or wrong, I'm still going to keep an eye and ear out for them. Who knows? Maybe I'll find one and rewrite the entomological journals. Stranger things have happened.

On another note: As for our anomalous dwarf cicada in the photographs, something else which I thought was unusual about it was its wing pattern. If you look at photo #1, you'll note the absence of the familiar "zig-zag" (or, "lightning bolt") pattern; Instead of being diagonal, the top "zig-zag" line is vertical. Now, that's odd, but not too unusual as I have collected a T. Lyricen a while back that had the same vertical "zig-zag" anomaly.

However... The wing veins of this mysterious cicada aren't really matching up with the veining on a T. pruinosus, nor a T. robinsonianus. Both of those cicadas have 7 veins branching to the ambient vein along the apex and posterior margin. That is to say, starting with, but not counting, Cubitus anterior #2 (CuA2), we have: 1) CuA1; 2) Media #4 (M4); 3) M3; 4) M2; 5) M1; 6) Radial sector (Rs); and, 7) Radius anterior (RA).

The weird thing is that our anomalous cicada has only 6 of those veins---From what I can tell, the M2 appears to be missing!

Very odd indeed.

There's just so much "oddness" with this little girl that I am at a loss as to what exactly to classify her as and am hoping that you can figure it out. A new species would be awesome, but I'm not holding my breath.

Anyway, I'm planning on heading out to the post office sometime Monday afternoon to mail our little anomaly to you. Also, I'm still putting together a fairly sizeable collection of local cicadas for your collection and for trade with others. I'll probably get those off to you before the end of August.

- Bill M.

P.S. - RE the reporter: I emailed her last week, or so, and invited her on a bug hunt with me. I haven't heard anything back since then. Maybe she's a bit squeamish about bugs or something. I don't know. I'll let you know if I hear anything further from her.

Posted By: Massachusetts Cicadas | On: 2011-08-08 | Website:

Hey Bill,

These sort of anomalous patterns in wing veins is not uncommon. I have seen instances of spurious wing veins in other cicadas as well. Particularly Okanagana. W. T. Davis wrote a few times regarding this anomaly. I have documented spurious wing veins in other species as well.

What I do find a bit unusual is the Male T. pruinosus you supplied for comparison. If you note on the abdominal tergites, you will see that each segment has brown on the posterior edge. This is a key diagnostic feature of T. winnemana in the east. T. winnemana and T. pruinosus are believed related because their calling songs are so similar.

Posted By: Massachusetts Cicadas | On: 2011-08-10 | Website:

Hey Bill,

Thanks for sending me this specimen. I have compared it to local T. canicularis cicadas, T. auriferus cicadas from Kansas and T. davisi from North Carolina. I have to say that it is indeed small. Even smaller than some of my T. canicularis cicadas. However, after comparing all the morphological features, its those pruinose spots and the medial stripe on the venter (or lack thereof) that is not indicative of those species. Except with the slightest possibility that it could be T. davisi but I think that is a long shot. I have seen very small T. pruinosus females from Kansas and when I compare this to those, it seems to fit right in so I'm going to have to still say that this is indeed T. pruinosus.

I really appreciate the specimen though and thanks again.

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