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Species Neotibicen auriferus - Plains Dog-day Cicada

Tibicen auriferus - Neotibicen auriferus Mating Cicadas - Neotibicen auriferus Cicada - Neotibicen auriferus Plains Cicada - Neotibicen auriferus - male Neotibicen auriferus - Plains Dog-day Cicada?? - Neotibicen auriferus - male Tibicen? - Neotibicen auriferus Tibicen? - Neotibicen auriferus Cicada - Neotibicen auriferus - male
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Hemiptera (True Bugs, Cicadas, Hoppers, Aphids and Allies)
Suborder Auchenorrhyncha (Free-living Hemipterans)
Superfamily Cicadoidea (Cicadas, Leafhoppers, and Treehoppers)
Family Cicadidae (Cicadas)
Subfamily Cicadinae
Genus Neotibicen (Annual or Dogday Cicadas)
Species auriferus (Plains Dog-day Cicada)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
aurifera
Identification
Song is similar to canicularis and davisi:
Best described as a loud, high-pitched whine with a slight vibration (~like a power saw cutting wood) - usu. lasting several seconds before fading at the end

Color and pattern are not absolutes for species id., but can be helpful. Regarding measurements, these too can be misleading; some individuals may not adhere to "specified measurements" used to "key out" a species. Within this taxon, head & mesonotal/thoracic widths are subject to some variation.

The Plains Dog-Day Cicada, Tibicen auriferus, can be VARIABLE in color, pattern and size, but seemingly less subject to as much variation as seen in canicularis & davisi. There may be some geographic tendencies regarding observed variations between and among individuals (? - larger series/collections can better address these observations). This species may be Dark Green, Light Green, Olive, Taupe, Greenish-brown/Tan, Golden-tan with greenish hints and/or any combination of the preceding). The mesonotum is generally patterned centrally with greens/tans and black with rust or reddish-brown laterally (this coloration scheme is typical of several species within this Genus). All known color forms may be encountered across the species' range; however, there may be some geographic tendencies to the frequency with which these forms are encountered (?).

DESCRIPTION: Head noticeably wider than widest point of pronotum (eyes usually protrude beyond the widest point of the prothorax). Males possess oblong, tan opercula which are usually half, to slightly less than half, abdominal length. Color variable, pronotal collar usually green to dark green but may be dark brown or reddish-brown in some individuals. Based on specimens and images reviewed, eye color seems less variable than in davisi, and is often lighter by comparison. Eye color may incl. light gray, tan, light bluish-gray/slate, and light chocolate or even "purplish-brown". The tips of forewings and associated veins are rarely as infuscated, smoky colored, as seen in davisi nominate or harnedi. The forewings in this species are often more rounded apically than seen in davisi (similar in many respects to the wing shape seen in harnedi). Underside of abdomen usually lacks a well developed black stripe; however, some specimens may have slight dark edging to ventral segments (sternites).

In general, this Cicada is less than 2 inches in total length (incl. wings). The head to thoracic ratios/body proportions are similar to those seen in davisi, harnedi and superbus. The Plains Dog-Day cicada and related taxa are usu. more compact with wider heads relative to "pronotal width" and seem to lack a "neck" (i.e. the sides of the pronotum are usually nr. ~parallel). In canicularis and related taxa, the pronotum is often slightly constricted behind the head (i.e. the sides of the pronotum are more evidently convergent anteriorly & divergent posteriorly giving the insect a more pronounced neck and somewhat more "bug-eyed" appearance).

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Similar to and often confused with canicularis and davisi
Range
Appears to replace T. davisi west of the Mississippi River. [Louisiana, e. & c. Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, possibly into Iowa and the s./e. periphery of adjacent Plains states]

Possibly w. Miss., sw. TN ... (compare with ssp. harnedi, currently attached to T. davisi?)
(T. davisi ssp. harnedi is similar to auriferus in many respects and the taxonomic relationship between these taxa is not well established)
Habitat
Typically found in open meadows and fields adj. to forests. This cicada is similar in size and habit to T. davisi.

NOTE: The closely related T. davisi is most associated with pines. However, unlike T. davisi, auriferus can be found in areas where pines are few and far between, and does not seem to share host preferences with the latter.
Season
July-Sept
Food
Various vascular plants
Remarks
Very closely related to Tibicen davisi
See Also
Most often confused with the following:

"Southern Dog-day Cicadas"
Loosely & informally referred to as the "Southern Dog-day Cicadas" ("coined", Bill Reynolds), the following taxa are mostly "southern" in distribution and appear to be closely related. These cicadas share several traits, incl. elongated opercula in the males, rapid trill and/or clicking calls, and unusually wide heads relative to body dimension (head widths usu. exceed thoracic widths).
(*appears to be the most divergent member within this group - ??)

"Green Tibicen Species"
Collectively, yet informally, referred to as the "Green Tibicen species" (per. comm.), the following cicadas are often difficult to differentiate and all appear to be very closely related. Genitalic analysis of the males suggest these species are very closely related and morphological differences between and among the species are slight. It is also thought (based on observations) that several of these may be involved in complex hybrid zones; however, more work is needed to substantiate and better understand these observations.
Tibicen pruinosus pruinosus var. fulvus Beamer 1924 [syn. T. pruinosa var. fulva], "Pale Scissor(s) Grinder Cicada"