Various Cicada Stuff
News Category: Cicada General Info
Various Cicada Stuff
Hey all, sorry for the delay in updates but the regular job has been keeping me busy. My free time has been very limited as of late because of it but "baby needs a new pair of shoes" as the 'ole saying goes. So I have to choose between going out in the field in my spare time or doing web site updates. Guess which looses out? Yep, you guessed it doing the web site updates.
I'd rather spend the time in the field. As long as I take good notes, I can get the updates done whenever I can.
Last year and the year before I had plenty of time, especially when the cicada season was in full swing. I could do updates almost daily but now I'm limited to only doing them on the weekends.
But that doesn't mean that stuff isn't going on. Far from it. I have been getting a ton of email from readers in New England and other parts of the country with their cicada and cicada killer sightings. I think once the season is over, I'm going to configure an online form for the readers to fill in when they want to report a cicada sighting in New England. Below is a recap of the happenings and goings-on for this week.
A Day Trip To Connecticut
Today, I spent most of the day in Connecticut to work on the distribution mapping of Tibicen chloromera Tibicen tibicen there. As you remember last year, I spent a lot of time in Connecticut due to exciting news that they experience yearly emergences so close to the Southern Massachusetts border. I went there to check to see if Tibicen chloromera Tibicen tibicen were still in the same spots that I discovered them last year and it turns out that they are.
So this tells me that these areas have pretty much well established populations and that the emergences experienced last year were not just from "satellite males". So that's at least some good news. I even managed to document new areas where I heard them as well. I didn't revisit all areas as Tibicen chloromera Tibicen tibicen males have a strange habit of shutting off (not calling) after noon time so I will have to revisit the missed areas another time.
One T. chloromera Specimen From West Virginia Still Kicking.
The six Tibicen chloromera Tibicen tibicen specimens that I captured while on vacation in West Viriginia two weeks ago started dying off a few days after I got home. I was able to obtain these specimens during their eclosing (molting process). In my discussion on catching cicadas, I write that this is the best method that I am able to employ to catch cicadas. You can read about it if you click here. Maybe you can go and catch your own.
Cicadas really do not do well in captivity. Their adult lifecycle is estimated to be over a month. So being captured shortens that time significantly. I will have to see how long this last male specimen survives in captivity.
Unlike last year, these male T. chloromera did develop their alarm squawks and got very pruinose (waxy white). While last year, the male Tibicen chloromera Tibicen tibicen and T. canicularis specimens did not live long enough. They only managed to develop the most rudimentary alarm squawk not up to what they usually have.
I did do things differently this year than I did last year. I had my girlfriend make some bags out of fine mesh netting and I placed the bags on branches of a Dogwood Tree in the yard and tied the bottoms shut. In this way, the cicadas were able to feed on live branches. I think this definately helped.
Part of my experiment was not only to try to keep them alive as long as possible but to also keep males and females separated. I didn't want them to mate because in 2004 I noticed that females of Tibicen canicularis species as well as Tibicen lyricen started to oviposit in the dead portions of lilac branches that I had in a terrarium. This not only happened once but twice.
I couldn't be 100% sure if these cicadas mated with the males that were also in the terrarium because I didn't notice any mating behavior going on, but I couldn't be there 24/7 to watch. Suffice it to say that the females did lay eggs but the question was, "do they do this even though there are no males to mate with?"
That is the key question and was why I wanted to keep them separated now.
I did note a rather exciting observation however. The last female died just yesterday (7/28/06) and I noticed that there is a small egg sticking out of the side of its lower abdomen. There is a possibility that it is truly egg-bound though it is dead. It probably died because of this. I wondered why it didn't lay the eggs on the branch where it was being held captive inside the bag. I did look closely at the branch and noticed there were no dead portions.
I will need to dissect this specimen to see if it is truly egg-bound.
So what does all this tell us? Well here goes:
- Female Tibicen species will not lay eggs in live branches but only dead ones. (The fine folks at University of Connecticut at Storrs told me this so this just confirms it.)
- Females do still develop eggs and need to oviposit them despite mating.
New Feature! - Cicadas and Other Insect Sightings From The Web.
I've been getting reports of sightings from readers along with pictures and questions from New England and other parts of the country. So, to encourage more of this, I have started a new feature "Reader-submitted sightings." If you read this site on a regular basis or found it through a search engine and if you think you have a cicada, cicada killer or other insect that you just can't seem to identify, let me know about it and I'll post your message along with a response. Click the "Reader-submitted Cicada Sightings" to see what readers have submitted this year.
Please keep the cicada and cicada killer sightings coming because they will help with the distribution mapping. When submitting information, please include your name, the town the cicada was sited, a street address and also county and date. Especially a picture for indentification purposes. I know that sometimes it is not always possible to see a cicada so I will be putting up some sound files in the future in case you hear a cicada but not see it and are interested as to which species it may be.
Cicada Study In West Viriginia
If you read my previous update you will know that I went to West Viriginia a few weeks back. I am still compiling the data and photos from my trip. A link will show up in the "Missions" section above and to the left. It is taking a rather long time. But I think when it is done, it will probably be around three or four pages (one for each day). I got to get this done before my trip to Martha's Vineyard on August 10th. So I'm under the gun to get it done. I don't want to get too far behind. So until next time, enjoy the site!