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Species Megatibicen auletes - Northern Dusk Singing Cicada

Cicada Nymph - Megatibicen auletes - female Tibicen auletes? - Megatibicen auletes - male Newly emerged cicada nymph - Megatibicen auletes Tibicen sp.? - Megatibicen auletes Ovipositing? - Megatibicen auletes - female Cicada - Megatibicen auletes - male Cicada 2 ventral - Megatibicen auletes
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
Superfamily Cicadoidea (Cicadas)
Family Cicadidae (Cicadas)
Subfamily Cicadinae
Genus Megatibicen
Species auletes (Northern Dusk Singing Cicada)
Other Common Names
Northern Dusk-singing Cicada
Greater Dusk-calling Cicada
"Greater/Big/Giant Oak Cicada"
"Southern Oak Cicada"
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Megatibicen auletes (Germar, 1834). Synonyms:
Tibicen auletes
Explanation of Names
Likely a combination of Greek aulon, a meadow, plus -etes, dweller (1).
circa 45 mm body length
T. auletes is our LARGEST EASTERN Tibicen SPECIES.
In fact, it appears to be our largest and most robust North American Cicada (north of Mexico)!

1) SIZE: Avg. 2.25-2.75 inches (up to ~3.0") in total length (incl. wings).
2) COLORATION: 2 color forms "Olive-Green/Olive-Taupe-Tan" or "Rust/Reddish-brown"
In the reddish color form, the wing veins are also characterized by being a deep reddish-brown. Unlike resonans the wings are broader and the cicada is typically more pruinose (i.e. well-developed white bands on the abdomen)
The pronotum of these cicadas is usually olive or taupe (rarely reddish) with a well developed central pattern
3) PRUINOSITY: These cicadas often look as though they are molded or have been dusted in "powdered sugar". No other US species is so pruinose (NOTE: This white wax will wipe off and over time, esp. in older specimens, much of the white can be lost! Reduced white wax often changes the general appearance of these insects)
4) EYES: when alive/fresh, the eyes are a light - often described as a sandy tan, grey-tan or rarely purplish-grey or purplish-tan.
6) VENTER: Pruinose / No dark pigmentation
7) MALES: oblique round olive-yellow colored opercula (rarely reddish-tan in color)

Frequently confused with and closely related to T. resh & T. resonans. There are a couple sites on the web exhibiting such misidentifications based on similarity of appearance and call (i.e. specimens identified as auletes, esp. those from central Florida, are often misidentifications and representative of Tibicen resonans).
T. resh

T. resonans

Very large (45 mm body length, about 65 mm to wing tips) and very pruinose.
Body length: 1.75-2.0"
Incl. wings: 2.5-3.0"

The call might best be described as follows:...There is a "winding up phase".... rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr ... followed by a "Dirrrrrrrrrrr....Dirrrrrrrr...Dirrr-Dirrr-Dirrr-Dirrr-Dirrr-..etc. before winding down with an often prolonged croaky Dirrrrrrrr...rrrrr..rrrrr...."
e US (TX-FL-NJ-KS) - Map (2)


Despite the common name, this cicada is most common across the South.
Extreme n. Florida ("the Highlands"), Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, North Carolina & Virginia

Moderately abundant in the Mid-West: Mississippi River Basin
Moderately abundant in the Mid-Atlantic: incl. Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey & New York
RARE in New England: incl. Connecticut & Massachusetts
Reported to be oak woodlands.
Rarely associated with other plant communities, however, oaks are typically near by.
Late summer.
July-September (North Carolina).
July-November (Gulf States & northern Florida).
Preferred Hosts for nymphs and adults - Oaks, Quercus sp.
Life Cycle
eggs usually laid in dead twigs, wood or bark
(occasionally eggs will be laid in living stems and twigs)

eggs hatch and nymphs burrow into the soil

nymphs feed on the sap in roots for several years (prefer oaks, Quercus spp.)

Final instar nymphs emerge and develop into winged adults (emergence for this species usu. occurs at night - into early morning)
Replaced by Tibicen resh in western Gulf States (Louisiana & Texas)
Replaced by T. resonans in Pine dominated habitats across the southeast (east of the Miss. Riv.)

The calls of Tibicen resh, Tibicen resonans and T. auletes are very similar and frequently confused with one another.


T. auletes is the largest cicada in the eastern USA!
Characteristically, T. auletes here in the South is a dark olive green with some tans and browns overlaid with a heavy dusting of white wax - giving it a powdered appearance.

It is closely related to T. resonans which it replaces in the southern hardwood forests. Although both species are sympatric across much of the resonans range, the two seem to have preferences in host and habitat specifics (resonans w/pine and auletes w/oak).

When teneral, T. auletes is usually a bright blue-green or mint-green turning to dark olive and tan as they sclerotize (harden).
NOTE: A rare exception involves the red color form which is usu. salmon-pink when teneral. This red-brown color morph of auletes is easily confused with T. resonans; however, as with most auletes, these cicadas are typically very pruinose and the wings are a bit broader by comparison.

Frequently confused and closely related - T. auletes, T. resh & T. resonans.
T. auletes is our LARGEST EASTERN Tibicen SPECIES.

T. resh

T. resonans
Print References
Brimley, p. 86, lists for July-September in eastern North Carolina. (3)
Works Cited
1.Dictionary of Word Roots and Combining Forms
Donald J. Borror. 1960. Mayfield Publishing Company.
2.Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF)
3.Insects of North Carolina
C.S. Brimley. 1938. North Carolina Department of Agriculture.