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Genus Tibicen - Annual Cicadas (refer to Neotibicen & Hadoa)

Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Hemiptera (True Bugs, Cicadas, Hoppers, Aphids and Allies)
Suborder Auchenorrhyncha (True Hoppers)
Infraorder Cicadomorpha (Cicadas, Spittlebugs, Leafhoppers, and Treehoppers)
Superfamily Cicadoidea (Cicadas)
Family Cicadidae (Cicadas)
Subfamily Cicadinae
Tribe Tacuini
Genus Tibicen (Annual Cicadas (refer to Neotibicen & Hadoa))
Other Common Names
Dog Day Cicadas - This name is most often applied in particular to Neotibicen (Tibicen) canicularis
Locusts - a commonly used misnomer (Locusts are "Short-horned" Grasshoppers / Refer to the order Orthoptera)
Katydids - a commonly used misnomer (Katydids are "Long-horned" Grasshoppers / Refer to the order Orthoptera)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Tibicen Latreille, 1825. North American species formerly assigned to this genus are now placed in:
"All the –a endings in the species of Tibicen need to be –us, e.g. bifida should be bifidus", per Allen Sanborn (Barry University, Florida), pers. comm., 2008. (Note, many taxonomists working on larger groups, e.g. leps, have abandoned gender agreement, but apparently this isn't the case with Cicadas. MQ)

The Genus Tibicen was formerly listed as part of subfamily Tibiceninae (concealed-timbal cicadas). See SINA for classification,...but has since been moved to the Cicadinae.

Historically, the Genus Tibicen was in the sub-Family Tibiceninae, but is now placed in the Cicadinae.
Currently, the family Cicadidae is being restructured and additional updates will follow - hopefully soon.
Explanation of Names
Tibicen is Latin for "flute-player, piper" (2).

Arnett, p. 298 (3) list 30+ North American species in Genus--but see comments above.

Below is a list of the North American Tibicen species and "species groupings".
These groupings are based on the literature, per. observ., per. comm., and reflect shared morphological and behavioral traits used historically to classify these insects. In some cases, the songs also reflect shared origins for several of these "groupings" and have been taken into consideration.
NOTE: Many of the listed common names are informal & are either colloquial or suggested (here on bugguide).
As mentioned, the following information is based on a consensus of the literature, per. comm., and per. research & observation - "NOT SET IN STONE":

"LARGE Tibicen Species"

"The auletes Group"
*Appears to be the most divergent member (?)

"The dorsatus/pronotalis Group"

"MEDIUM Tibicen Species"
These are among the most recognized species both by call and physical appearance. Several are among the most common and widespread members of the Genus.

"Swamp Cicadas"/"The chloromerus Group"

"Lyric Cicadas"/"The lyricen Group"
*Tibicen bermudianus [T. bermudiana (Verrill 1902)], "Bermuda Cicada"- EXTINCT
(*Most closely related to T. lyricen, this cicada was endemic to the Bermuda Islands. Sadly, this cicada is now EXTINCT due to habitat and host plant loss. Unfortunately, disease threats to the host plant, Bermuda cedar, Juniperus bermudiana continue to threaten its existence as well.)

"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 often 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.

"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 (??)

"SMALL Tibicen Species"
Several of these smaller and "mostly western" species appear quite divergent from the eastern members and may deserve separate Generic status. (Additional work is much needed to better understand the species' relationships within this Genus.)

NOTE: As mentioned, the above arrangement is "hypothetical" and much of it is based on older classification schemes (+ per. observ. and per. comm.). Additional genetic analysis and detailed morphological studies may reveal different taxonomic relationships.

Additional North American Tibicen species (incl. a few found in Mexico)
NOTE: Some of the species found at this site have been assigned different taxonomic status (i.e. at the specific and/or generic level)

For Additional Info, refer to Diceroprocta apache

For additional info, refer to Tibicen chisosensis

For additional info, refer to Cornuplura nigroalbata

For additional info, refer to Tibicen simplex

For additional info, refer to Tibicen texanus

For additional info, refer to Tibicen lyricen virescens
Most species belonging to this Genus are characterized by relatively large size (~1.5 to ~3 inches)
(Avg. range for most North American species is 40-70 mm)
USUALLY represented by large cicadas often colored & patterned with blacks, browns, rusts, tans, yellows and greens; many are dusted or heavily patterned with white wax (pruinosity).
NOTE: Preserved specimens are often discolored! Unfortunately, once dead, cicadas are prone to fading and/or discoloration ("Marbling").
Greens often turn to tan or brown
Reds may turn to dark brown or black
And in some cases, the entire specimen may turn dark obscuring the pattern.

IMPORTANT to mention!
When collecting and/or preserving cicadas, one should avoid environmental extremes such as high humidity, freezing, heat, drying ovens, and even chemicals & solvents used in kill jars! If specimens are exposed to these conditions, there is increased likelihood of negative impact on the specimens' natural "in life" colors and patterns.

The "condition" of extensive dark coloration seen in the specimen above is not unusual (esp. when frozen and thawed). Unfortunately, cicadas often discolor after death and preservation methods are best employed on FRESH material. Because of discoloration, dead specimens can lead to erroneous interpretations, particularly regarding the distributions for the ssp. & forms. Geographic distribution data for the species above, T. lyricen, is often contaminated with data points based on poorly preserved material leading to erroneous id's as of to which form or ssp. a specimen belongs. Case in point, some might think this to be a dark lyricen f. lyricen or maybe near f. engelhardti if not for the collection site of penisular FL (in this case = a discolored T. lyricen virescens).

Although color and pattern are not absolutes for species id., they can be helpful (esp. when the specimen is fresh or alive). Regarding measurements, these too can be misleading; individual and geographic variations are often confounding and may not adhere to "specified" measurements and/or descriptions used in many of the identification keys (When deciding on a key, it's best to make sure the key is applicable to your region! - for instance, the Cicadas of Michigan has little application when attempting to identify the cicadas of Florida - Unfortunately, there are few keys available and most of these have limited application, often being restricted to a particular state or region.).
NOTE: Many of the characteristics used diagnostically can be problematic when applied over great distances or across a species' range. I have noticed in particular that head & thoracic widths (ratios) as well as wing dimensions, costal margin shapes and node positions are all subject to variation, and although often helpful with species id., are not absolutes - Many things should be considered when identifying members of this Genus! (the aforementioned characteristics can vary as a result of individual variation, geographic origin and gender) - (pers. comm. & pers. observations, bill reynolds)


NOTE: Some IMAGES placed under this taxon may be MISIDENTIFIED at the species level and are in a constant state of review!
Based on morphological characteristics, call similarities, and distribution patterns, several species are subject to confusion and erroneous id (We/I make mistakes!).
This is a dynamic "living-breathing" site and though we (I) make mistakes, we strive to share the most comprehensive and accurate information possible.
Comments, corrections and updates are always welcome.
VARIABLE: incl. n. Mexico, USA & Canada
Most species are found in Eastern and Central North America, east of Rockies (There are a few exceptions.).
VARIOUS: While most species appear to be associated with eastern deciduous & mixed forests, several are associated with and/or exclusive to pine dominated forests, grasslands/prairies and even desert environments.
Usually Summer - Most species are active between June-August
Most members of this Genus are annual species with multiple overlapping generations.

In some southern locations, Tibicen species may be active from Spring through Fall (April-November).
Florida records suggest a few species (i.e. T. figuratus, T. davisi and T. latifasciatus) may be active as late as December/early January in years with mild winters.

Most species in this Genus are considered to be generalists, but some species appear to be "host specific".
Interestingly, strong host affiliations may be an artifact of female oviposition preferences rather than food specifics. Captive observations of adult cicadas suggest only a hand full of Tibicen species may be host preferential, requiring a specific plant or group of plants from which to feed. More studies are needed to determine the specifics of feeding behavior and host acceptability among Tibicen species.



Nymphs feed underground on the sap of perennial plants. Several species seem to exhibit host plant preferences/specificity(?).



Milne (4) reports that adults do not eat, but sometimes feed on sap?

(per. comm. & per. observ.)

Both field and captive observations readily prove that adult Tibicen species frequently feed/drink and need to do so on a daily basis (sap & water seem to be necessary).

In captivity, individuals given a fresh source of vegetation (branches and stems) readily feed and often do so for 2 or 3 hours at a time and may be seen feeding several times a day. Insects maintained under conditions where food is readily available may live a week or more. In contrast, Tibicen specimens maintained at ambient temperatures and denied "food" become increasingly weak, rarely lasting more than 24-36 hours. It is important to mention that not all Tibicen species do well in captivity regardless of food availability (per. observ.), but they are observed to "feed/drink".
Life Cycle

Life cycles are three years (or more?), not actually annual. These just have a much shorter life-cycle than Magicicada, and there are emergences every year, thus "annual cicadas". Eggs are frequently laid in dead twigs, but some taxa have been opbserved to oviposit in living twigs. When eggs are laid in living twigs, the process often causes them to wilt, droop, and possibly fall to ground (damage to living branches is much less than seen in Magicicada emergences).

Nymphs burrow into ground and feed on plant juices from roots. After several years (three or more?) underground, nymphs crawl onto tree trunk, wall, etc. and molt for the last time. Adults leave the last molted skin clinging to the surface of a tree (or wall, etc.) and fly off. Males, mostly, sing during the day.
Most species belonging to this Genus are characterized by relatively large size (1.5 to 3 inches) and distinctive color and pattern (often elaborate and colorful in a number of taxa).
For details, please refer to the "guide pages" under each species here on Bugguide (for a comprehensive list of taxa, refer above under the section header "Numbers" - select & click). Additional information is also available below under the "Printed Ref's." and "Internet Ref's." sections.


I would like to thank the following people for their collective contributions to the information and specimens found here on the Tibicen pages: Ronnie Veal, Rob Sanders, Evie Heinz, Gerry Bunker, Jake Readnour, Elias Bonaros, Kathy Hill, Dave Marshall, Andy Hamilton, A. Sanborn, Greg Holmes, Joe Green, Martha Flanagan, Ken Kneidel, Andrew Williams, Aaron Brees, Michael Reynolds, Beth Person, Bill Myers, P. Krombholtz, P. Coin, Eric Eaton, Jim Durbin and many-many-many others here on bugguide and abroad!
Thank You,
Bill Reynolds
See Also
Species now assigned to:
Print References
Arnett and Jacques, #65--T. canicularis (5)
Arnett, p. 298, fig. 21.12-15 (3)
Borror, entry for tibic, =en, in (2)
Brimley, p. 86 (6)
Cranshaw, p. 436 (7)
Milne, pp. 491-492, figs. 290--T. canicularis, 289--T. dorsata (4)
Salsbury, pp. 125-126, photos: T. aurifera, dorsata, pruinosa (8)
Works Cited
1.Molecular phylogenetics, diversification, and systematics of Tibicen Latreille 1825 ...
Kathy B. R. Hill, David C. Marshall, Maxwell S. Moulds, and Chris Simon. 2015.
2.Dictionary of Word Roots and Combining Forms
Donald J. Borror. 1960. Mayfield Publishing Company.
3.American Insects: A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico
Ross H. Arnett. 2000. CRC Press.
4.National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders
Lorus and Margery Milne. 1980. Knopf.
5.Simon & Schuster's Guide to Insects
Dr. Ross H. Arnett, Dr. Richard L. Jacques. 1981. Fireside.
6.Insects of North Carolina
C.S. Brimley. 1938. North Carolina Department of Agriculture.
7.Garden Insects of North America : The Ultimate Guide to Backyard Bugs (Princeton Field Guides)
Whitney Cranshaw. 2004. Princeton University Press.
8.Insects in Kansas
Glenn A. Salsbury and Stephan C. White. 2000. Kansas Dept. of Agriculture.