Genus Magicicada - Periodical Cicadas
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)
Superfamily Cicadoidea (Cicadas)
Family Cicadidae (Cicadas)
Genus Magicicada (Periodical Cicadas)
Other Common Names
17-year locusts, 13-year locusts. (Note that true locusts are grasshoppers
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Magicicada W.T. Davis
, 1925. (See Remarks for discussion of taxonomy.)
Explanation of Names
Presumably from Latin magi(s)
more, to a greater extent, plus Latin cicada
, a cicada or tree-cricket (1)
(Latin Dictionary). (Most members of this genus were originally placed in Cicada
Checklist of Cicadas North of Mexico
, and magicicada.org list 7 species.
Magicicada septendecim (Linnaeus, 1758)
Magicicada cassinii (Fisher, 1851)
Magicicada septendecula Alexander and Moore, 1962
Magicicada tredecim (Walsh and Riley, 1868)
Magicicada neotredecim Marshall and Cooley, 2000
Magicicada tredecassini Alexander and Moore, 1962
Magicicada tredecula Alexander and Moore, 1962
See Remarks and Life cycle below on relationships among the 13-year and 17-year species.
M. septendecim, tredecim: 27-30 mm body length, wingspan to 76 mm (2)
M. cassini, decula, tredecassini, tredecula: smaller, body length 20-28 mm (magicicada.org)
Coloration distinctive: body is mostly black, red to orangish-red eyes, yellow-orange wing veins. Noted for mass-emergence of adults and the formation of choruses of singing males on a 17-year or 13-year period. Unmistakable as a genus--details of underside of abdomen (and male courtship song) can help identify species.
Eastern North America. Active broods (2013):
17-year broods are more northern (below, left), 13-year broods more southern (below, right):
Adults fly in late spring, typically late April to early June; generally earlier than other cicada genera.
use a significant number of trees as host plants, primarily ovipositing in deciduous trees. (3)
Unique life-cycle, with almost all individuals emerging as adults after 13-year or 17-year period as nymphs. Members of a given brood in a particular area tend to emerge over a very short period, resulting in high population densities for a limited time. Males form huge "choruses" in deciduous trees--the numbers are so great that the noise can be painful to human ears.
There are four species with 13-year and three species with 17-year life cycles. The 13-year species are more southern, the 17-year species more northern. There are a number of broods, or "year-classes", whose members emerge in the same year in the same geographic area. (Specifically, there are currently 12 broods of 17-year cicadas, and 3 broods of 13-year cicadas, with some additional broods known historically that appear to be extinct--see magicicada.org
.) Entomologists have a standard numbering system using Roman Numerals to designate these broods (Marlatt, 1907). A given brood typically contains members of all three species with the same life-cycle (13-year or 17-year). The brood populations appear to be relatively stable, and several have been tracked via historical records--in one case, (brood XIV, a 17-year brood) back to 1634
(Lyche, Periodical Cicadas
There are various hypotheses for the length of the life-cycle (13 or 17 years). Prime number-based cycle may help the cicadas to evade tracking by cycling populations of predators and/or parasites. In addition, populations may converge on prime number-length cycles due to statistical effects (Cox and Carleton, 1998; Goles et al., 2001; Yoshimura, 1997).
There are three sets of sibling species
within this genus, indicated by the species name suffixes: -decim
, and -decula
. Each group has both 17-year and 13-year cycling populations, and these are traditionally treated as separate species. The closest relative of each Magicicada
species is/are its relative(s) with the alternate life cycle (magicicada.org
). The groups are:
Magicicada septendecim (17-year) <--> Magicicada tredecim (13-year, widespread), Magicicada neotredecim (13-year, limited range)
Magicicada cassini (17-year) <--> Magicicada tredecassini (13-year)
Magicicada septendecula (17-year) <--> Magicicada tredecula (13-year)
An alternative interpretation of these relationships is that there are but three species (more-or-less) in the genus, with differing life-cycle forms for each. This is an ongoing area of research--see magicicada.org
for a discussion.
The two -decula species seem to be much less common than the -decim and -cassini species.
To further complicate matters, Magicicada
species have multimodal life-cycle patterns spanning −4 to +4 yrs in both 13- and 17-yr cicadas. (4)
species--some with similar coloration, though lacking red eyes
Alexander, R.D., and T.E. Moore. 1962. The evolutionary relationships of 17-year and 13-year cicadas, and three new species (Homoptera, Cicadidae, Magicicada). Univ. of Mich. Mus. Zool. Misc. Pub. 121: 1-59. (5)
Cox, R.T., and C.E. Carlton. 1998. A commentary on prime numbers and life cycles of periodical cicadas. Am. Nat. 152: 162-164 (JSTOR
Goles, E., Schulz, O. and Markus, M. 2001. Prime number selection of cycles in a predator-prey model. Complexity, 6: 33–38. doi: 10.1002/cplx.1040
Marlatt, C.L. 1907. The Periodical Cicada. (archive.org link
Marshall, D. C., Hill, K. B. R., Cooley, J. R. 2017. Multimodal life-cycle variation in 13- and 17-year periodical cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae: Magicicada). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 90: 211-226. (4)
Sanborn, A.F. and P.K. Phillips. 2013. Biogeography of the Cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) of North America, North of Mexico. Diversity 5(2): 166–239. (3)
Simon, C. 1988. Evolution of 13- and 17-year periodical cicadas. Bulletin of the Entomological Society of America 34: 163-176.
Yoshimura, J. 1997. The evolutionary origins of periodical cicadas during ice ages. Am. Nat. 149: 112-124 (abstract
--excellent life history discussion, very spiffy table of broods (link updated 1 May 2011)
Mating call sound files for both M. cassini and M. septendecula on Gerry Bunker's Brood X stragglers gallery page
--scroll to the bottom
--John R. Cooley's site, with extensive scientific information on this genus
Selected North American Cicada Species
--Dr. Chris Simon, includes discussions of taxonomy, life cycles
2011 Brood XIX
--here on BugGuide
|1.||Dictionary of Word Roots and Combining Forms|
Donald J. Borror. 1960. Mayfield Publishing Company.
|4.||Multimodal life-cycle variation in 13- and 17-year periodical cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae: Magicicada).|
Marshall, D.C., K.B.R. Hill, J.R. Cooley. 2017. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 90: 211-226.
|5.||The evolutionary relationships of 17-year and 13-year cicadas, and three new species (Homoptera, Cicadidae, Magicicada).|
Alexander, R.D. and T.E. Moore. 1962. Miscellaneous Publications, University of Michigan, Museum of Zoology 121: 1-59.