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Wettest June on Record for Okanagana

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Wettest June on Record for Okanagana

Wettest June on Record for Okanagana cicadas

This has to be the coldest and wettest June that I have ever experienced here in the Northeast. The week of June 7 - June 12 temperatures were in the 50's and it was also rainy. Despite this, on Saturday June 13th I headed back to my favorite spots in Montague, MA to hunt for more Okanagana. It was very sunny that Saturday and temps were in the mid 70's but still the Okanagana were not calling that day. I spent a good part of the day there and while I heard maybe one or two Okanagana the entire day it was amazingly quiet. I left there feeling very dejected and that perhaps the Okanagana species' season may have been done for the year. Cicadas do not do well in cold weather.

Two Okanagana males

O. rimosa maleFast-forward one week later and its Saturday, June 20 and we just had nearly another full week of rain and the temperature barely made it into the 70's. The day started out very sunny but as I drove west, the clouds started rolling in. I contemplated turning around because cicadas really do not call when its cloudy but I was hoping that the sun may yet still break out.

But instead of the day getting better, it actually got worse so I figured I had to change my tactics on how I would obtain specimens this weekend.

A Different Collecting Method

O. rimosus dorsal viewI thought about what it was I actually knew about O. rimosus and from what others have told me. Thinking about how I obtained specimens previously I knew that they sometimes like to call in low vegitation like bushes and small pines. It's just a matter of "zeroing in" on the males and then catch them by hand. Afterall they're very difficult to spot when calling in tall trees and trying to get a net around them is almost hopeless.

I decided to try to find them by sight. That's right, I concentrated on only the low vegitation areas where I heard them calling in the past, especially the pine saplings that grow under the powerlines and other open spaces.

Two out of Four ain't bad.

O. rimosus enface viewI managed to spot 4 cicadas this way. It was just a matter of moving very slowly with my hands until I was able to snatch them. I did miss two of the four I spotted however. I suspected that the ones I missed were actually female because I managed to get my hands on one of them and I noticed it didn't let out the expected alarm squawk signifying a male. Females do not have the special organs known as "timbals" that males have for calling.

If this holds true then one can conclude that females may be more wary than males. Afterall, this is my third year coming here and I've only managed to catch one female during that time.

Okanagana rimosa exposed timbalsO. rimosa exposed timbals and sternites closeup.Anyway, I did manage to catch two, both males. As with other exposed timbal cicadas, these males happily called in the specimen jar on the way home. Click the thumbnails to the left and right to see what the timbals look like. Unfortunately, though one of them died on the way home. I don't know if it was too hot in the specimen jar or what, but it just "keeled over".

Collecting for Science and Comparing Notes.

O. rimosusI don't want you to think that I'm just running around here "willy-nilly" catching cicadas for the hell of it. Heck no! I've actually been corresponding and comparing notes with Professor John Cooley of Yale University, New Haven, Ct. regarding O. rimosus' habitat. There seems to be some striking differences with O. rimosus here in the Northeast and where Professor Cooley obtains them which is some place out west. Suffice it to say that the differences in habitat are enough to perhaps theorize that we may be dealing with two different species or sub-species.

I have been collecting specimens this year for John so that DNA can be collected and then the differences compared. Who knows? Anything's possible.

Enjoy the rest of the photos from the two O. rimosas captured today. Click the thumbnails to enlarge.

Date Posted: 2009-06-20 Comments: (0) Show CommentsHide Comments


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