INTRODUCING THE CICADA
Cicadas ("Suh-Kay-Duhs") - belong to the Phylum Arthropoda and the Class Insecta (or insects) which are those creatures described as having three body parts (head, thorax, & abdomen), two antennae, and six legs. Cicadas belong to the order Hemiptera and the sub order Auchenorrhyncha (formerly Homoptera) which are classified as those insects with piercing mouth parts designed for sucking plant juices and having three stages of development (egg, nymph, & adult). Cicadas are the largest insects in their order and are closely related to aphids and scale insects. Cicadas make up a Super Family called the Cicadoidea which also includes leaf and tree hoppers, and are in their own family called the Cicadidae. There are approximately 1300 species in the Cicadidae family, most of which are tropical. Only approximately 170 of these species inhabit North America. From there, the Cicadidae is broken down into groups called the "genus." Three genera that exist near the Great Lakes are listed below. There are other genera near this region which I hope to include sometime in the near future. Genera are then broken down into each individual species... Several different species are noted on this site.
Worldwide, cicadas are heralded in folklore and myths and are often associated with "rebirth" in other cultures. Cicadas have a wide diversity. Some are the size of fruit flies and others have a wingspan of over eight inches, such as the species "Megapomponia imperatoria" that is found in Malaysia. Most known cicada species have multiyear life cycles. Some have developed "periodical" life cycles and are not seen for many years at a time; such as the Magicicada species.....
The cicadas living near the Great Lakes region are well known for their mating calls. Each species have their own unique sounds and most species can be identified by the sounds they produce. Only the males are able to produce sound by vibrating two membranes located behind their hind legs on the underside of their hollow abdomens.
When males sing in unison, the noise can often deter predators and become deafening to the human ear. In some cases, especially in Magicicada species (see below), their calls can reach volumes of over a hundred decibels.
Female cicadas do not sing and remain silent. They have no audible sound organs and their abdomens are full of eggs. At the end of their narrower and "pointy" abdomen, is an egg laying tool called an "ovipositor." This tool is tucked away until ready for use when she deposits her eggs into a host plant. Females respond to serenading males and communicate with a potential suitor by flicking her wings.
1. Genus Magicicada - These are perhaps the best known cicadas in the world. The Magicicada or "Periodical Cicada" became known by the first settlers to North America. They had mistaken them for a Biblical plague of locusts due to their large numbers... Hence the commonly used term "locusts" has forever been labeled not only to this genus, but the entire Cicadidae family.
Magicicadas are now found only in the Eastern United States. Up north, the genus requires 17 years to mature while in some southern states, they require 13 years. There has been some dispute amongst Entomologists whether there are six species or three species of Magicicada in the past. There are three 17 year races (M. septendecim, M. cassini, M. septendecula) and four 13 year races (M. tredecim, M. tredecassini, M. tredecula, and M. neotredecim).
Magicicada emergences are labeled as Broods arranged with Roman numerals from Brood I to Brood XXX. Brood I through Brood XVII is designated to the 17 year races while Broods XVIII through XXX is designated to the 13 year races. However, Magicicadas can get off schedule and some emerge in smaller numbers on off years. This is called "straggling" which can make it hard to construct accurate maps of their emergence years and areas. There are also sometimes 4 year emergence accelerations which is a part of the evolutionary process of the Broods. There are no longer thirty Broods which some have become extinct (Brood's XI and XXI) and/or there is some debate whether some ever really existed in various locations. There are currently 12 known 17 year Broods and 3 known 13 year Broods.
Magicicadas are usually 1 to 1.5 inches in length and have bright red eyes with orange wing veins and legs. Their bodies are black but give off a navy blue aura when hit with the proper lighting. They also have a "W" shaped marking on their larger fore wings which an "urban legend" associates this as a prediction for "war." Some species have banded orange undersides (M. decula spp.) while others are completely black (M. cassinii spp; aka: "dwarf cicada").
Occasionally some Magicicadas lack their natural pigmentation and can have blue-grey or white eyes and wing veins. This abnormality is a genetic variation and is very rare.
2. Genus Neotibicen - This is the common annual cicada which is seen during the heat of mid to late summer. This genus was formerly called Tibicen which recently changed to Neotibicen in 2015. They are also known as the "Dog Day Cicada," "Harvestmen" or "Harvest Fly." The time underground for Neotibicens to reach maturity is unknown. It is believed that the Neotibicens require about 2 to 5 years to mature, perhaps longer. Since Neotibicen Broods overlap, they are found every year.
Neotibicens are larger than Magicicadas with some species reaching a length of two inches or more. Neotibicens generally have black bodies with greenish wing veins and markings. Some species have black and gray markings while many species have white undersides. Neotibicens are found throughout the Eastern United States.
There are several species near the Great Lakes region. The more common are the "Swamp Cicada" or Neotibicen tibicen tibicen (formerly Tibicen tibicen and Tibicen chloromera), N. canicularis, N. linnei, N. auletes, N. lyricen, and N. pruinosus pruinosus. These different species like to sing at different times of the day but can form chorusing centers where each specific song can be picked out by a careful ear.
3. Genus Okanagana - This genus is often mistaken for Magicicadas in that they can also appear in great numbers. Okanaganians are approximately 1.0 to 1.25 inches in length and have tan and gray colored bodies with a pale orange underside. This genus is distributed in the Great Lakes region but is not as well-known as their Magicicada and Neotibicen cousins.
I find this genus as fascinating as the other two and I only hope increased research will be conducted in the future to obtain more data about them. It is possible that a species named Okanagana rimosa may have a 9 year life cycle and is possibly proto-periodical (Say). Like Neotibicens, the actual time they take to mature is unknown... Asides from O. rimosa, there are also O. canadensis and O. balli located in the Great Lakes region.
A brief history of the Cicada
65 Million Years Ago: Cretaceous Period - The first known cicadas in the fossil record.
10,000 BC: Cicadas are mentioned in the 3rd book of the Iliad by Homer.
1766 BC: Shang Dynasty - Cicadas are used in Chinese art.
1122 BC: Chou Dynasty - Jade cicadas are used in religious ritual burials as symbols of the soul.
560 BC: The fable of the "Cicada & the Ant" is told by the slave, Aesop the Phrygian.
500 BC: Cicadas are used in the artwork of ancient Greek coins.
332 BC: Cicadas are kept as pets by the ancient Greeks. They are also studied and written about by the famous philosopher, Aristotle.
300 BC: Cicadas are used as figurines in Italian Jewry.
200 BC: India cicadas are mentioned in the Hindu Laws - "The Institutes of Manu."
735 AD: Chinese Emperor Hang Ts'ung regards cicadas as symbols of the passage from mortal life to a higher state.
1350 AD: The term "cicada" originates from the Latin language.
1633 AD: The first Magicicada emergence is documented in the new world after being encountered by the Plymouth Colony.
1650 AD: A cicada is observed being devoured by a mantis by swordsman Wang Lang. Lang creates the Mantis (Kung Fu) Fighting Style.
1666 AD: The Brood XIV emergence becomes the first published account of the Magicicada by H. Oldenberg.
1759 AD: Magicicada septendecim is recognized and named "Cicada septendecim" by Swedish Scientist, Carolus Linnaeus.
1764 AD: Superstitions of war become instituted with the Magicicada.
1800 AD: Scientist & author Benjamin Banneker accurately predicts the emergence of Brood X this year after studying and observing them emerge in 1749, 1766, & 1783.
1812 AD: Dr. S. P. Hildreth of Ohio confirms the 17 year life cycle of the northern Magicicada.
1825 AD: The genus name "Tibicen" is assigned to many of the Dog-Day Cicadas by P.A. Latreille.
1846 AD: Entomologist Margaret Hare Morris is the first to announce the existence of a smaller Magicicada species (M. cassinii). She is never credited for her research.
1851 AD: M. cassinii is identified and named a separate species by Dr. J.C. Fisher. The name was in honor of John Cassin's field research.
1858 AD: Dr. D. L. Phares confirms the existence of a 13 year life cycle in southern Magicicadas.
1865 AD: U.S. Department of Agriculture Entomologist Charles V. Riley publishes his first cicada bulletin and continues to do so for years later until Charles L. Marlatt takes over the project.
1868 AD: The known Magicicada species is increased to 4 as 13 year M. tredecim are recognized and named separate from the 17 year races by Benjamin D. Walsh and Charles V. Riley.
1885 AD: Brood X is last recorded in Canada prior to its extinction in that country.
1889 AD: W. L. Distant begins to classify many families and species of cicada which become the focus of his life.
1870 AD: Brood XXI is seen for the last time in Florida prior to its extinction.
1898 AD: U.S. Department of Agriculture Entomologist Charles L. Marlatt begins to map and assign names to the different Magicicada Broods.
1906 AD: W. L. Distant publishes his "Synonymic Catalogue of Homoptera: Cicadidae."
1907 AD: C. L. Marlatt redefines the Brood areas and renames them to what we still use today.
1925 AD: The genus name "Magicicada" is assigned to the Periodical Cicada by William T. Davis.
1940 AD: The U.S. Department of Agriculture discontinues the Brood mapping project due to the outbreak of World War II.
1953 AD: M. septendecula is field studied by D. J. Borror and C.R. Reese.
1954 AD: Brood XI is seen for the last time in Connecticut prior to its extinction.
1962 AD: Richard Alexander and Thomas E. Moore further describe the species M. septendecula and M. tredecula.
1976 AD: R.S. Soper publishes his study of the proto periodicity of Okanagana rimosa, revealing this species to possibly have a 9 year life cycle.
1988 AD: Brood X is noted to have a major 1 year deceleration in Southern Ohio and Northern Kentucky. This is later discovered to be a 13 year Ohio-Kentucky Brood. (See below...)
1996 AD (March): The first Magicicada preserve is proposed in Hamden, Connecticut near Sleeping Giant Park by Yale University.
1996 AD (June): The web page "Cicada Mania" is launched by Dan "Century" Mozgai and becomes a worldwide renowned cicada information resource.
1996 AD: Species Tibicen bermudiana is confirmed to be extinct from the Bermuda region due to the destruction of its host plants from blight and the introduction of invasive bird species. The last male individual was heard singing in the early 90's.
1998 AD: A new 13 year cicada species "M. neotredecim" is discovered by C. Simon, John Cooley, David Marshall, & A. P. Martin.
1998 AD (May): 17 year Brood IV and 13 year Brood XIX emerge together in Missouri and Iowa; a phenomenon that only occurs once every 221 years (17 X 13).
2000 AD: 1/100 of Brood X emerges 4 years ahead of schedule in parts of Southern Ohio which remains consistent in the past century and demonstrates evidence of a new Brood that is beginning to evolve.
2001 AD: 13 year Magicicadas are hypothesized to be an independent Ohio-Kentucky Brood that went undiscovered for many years due to the overlapping emergences of other Broods.
2001 AD: After years of study and fascination, I finally get off my buttocks and create the first "Great Lakes Cicada Page." A new page for the new Millennium until years later my webhost was bought out making the original page "defunct."
2013 AD: New Forest Cicada Project is established to determine the existence or extinction of the species Cicadetta montana from the New Forest in Britain.
2014 AD: The Ohio-Kentucky Brood is confirmed after a 13 year wait.
2015 AD: The North American Tibicen genus is re-categorized and renamed after intensive studies into their phylogenetics . Eastern North American species are now classified as Neotibicen while the Western North American species are now the Hadoa.
2016 AD: With the return of Brood V, a new "Great Lakes Cicada Page" is born!
2021 AD: Brood X grounds a white house press plane by causing mechanical issues, land on President Biden, and appear on weather radar due to their sheer numbers. Also, a new genus, Vittagaeana, is created consisting of 2 species.
2024 AD: 17 year Brood XIII and 13 year Brood XIX will emerge together in Illinois; a phenomenon that only occurs once every 221 years (17 X 13).
Magicicada septendecim (Brood XIII)
Photograph taken: 06-06-07
North Meridian (Campbell Street) Valparaiso, Indiana.
Neotibicen tibicen tibicen "Swamp Cicada"
Photograph taken: 07/15
Sandusky County, Ohio
Okanagana canadensis "Canadian Cicada"
Photograph taken: 06/98
Mackinac County, Michigan
Photograph taken: 06/04
Washtenong Memorial Park
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Cicada: The name originates from a Latin word meaning "tree cricket" around the 14th century.