Selected North American cicada species

Information about selected North American cicadas: Click on names to see photos, maps, and/or other information.

Click on species names for photographs and songs

Note that colors (especially green) may not be accurate, due to the photographic process used and the state of preservation of the museum specimens.

Please read this note on the validity of unpublished species names.

DICEROPROCTA (15 species)

Cicadas belonging to the genus Diceroprocta are medium-sized with greenish wing veins.

Diceroprocta vitripennis Stal

MAGICICADA (7 species)

The genus Magicicada contains the periodical cicadas, known for their 17- or 13-year synchronized life cycles and dense choruses. These cicadas have striking black bodies, red eyes, and red wing veins. Seven species are described from this group. Males and females join dense aggregations, or leks, where the males search for the stationary females using short flights and calls.

The songs and morphology of the seven periodical cicada species are described below. The photographs of each species show, from left to right, dorsal and ventral views of a male, and dorsal and ventral views of a female. Each specimen is pinned through the thorax. The scale is a centimeter scale.

Three 17-year cicada species exist, each with distinctive morphology (shape and color), behavior, and calling signals. They are named below:

Magicicada septendecim (L. 1758)

Magicicada cassini (Fisher 1851)

Magicicada septendecula Alexander and Moore 1962

For each 17-year species, there is at least one morphologically and behaviorally similar species with a 13-year life cycle; these four 13-year species are listed below.

Magicicada tredecim (Walsh and Riley 1868)

Magicicada neotredecim Marshall and Cooley 2000

Magicicada tredecassini Alexander and Moore 1962

Magicicada tredecula Alexander and Moore 1962

The closest relative of each Magicicada species appears to be a counterpart with the alternative life cycle, from which it can be distinguished only by life cycle and geographic distribution. Some biologists have argued that the life cycle difference alone is not enough to justify species status. More information on the nature of the boundary between 13- and 17-year populations and the extent of hybridization between them would help to resolve this question, but for now there is no evidence that the distinctiveness of the life-cycle-forms is decreasing. For this reason and for practical purposes, most writers have adopted the taxonomy that recognizes the life cycle siblings as distinct species.

Most of the broods contain all of the 13- or 17-year species, with a few exceptions. Brood VII contains only M. septendecim (which tends to be found alone along the northern edge of the 17-year range), and 13-year Brood XXII lacks the new species M. neotredecim. Also, the four 13-year species are all found together in only a limited portion of the 13-year range (see below for more on this and the range of M. neotredecim).

M. neotredecim was described in 2000 (see Evolution Vol. 54, No.4, Pp. 1313-1325). M. neotredecim and its closest relative, M. septendecim, are consistently distinguishable only in life cycle length. The new species is similar to 13-year M. tredecim, but distinguishable in male song pitch, female song pitch preferences (Marshall and Cooley 2000), abdomen color, and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) lineage (Simon et al. 1998, Martin and Simon 1988, 1990). These findings are consistent with the theory that M. neotredecim evolved from populations of M. septendecim by a life cycle change (Martin and Simon 1988, 1990, Marshall and Cooley, 2000, Simon et al. 2000).

The two 13-year -decim species have a special geographic relationship -- they are not sympatric (living together) across the entire 13-year range. M. neotredecim inhabits the midwestern part of the 13-year range, while M. tredecim inhabits the southern and southeastern part. The two species overlap only along a narrow region in northern Arkansas, western Kentucky, and southern Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. . By comparison, the three 17-year species are found together from Connecticut to Kansas, and the remaining 13-year species together inhabit most 13-year populations. Where M. neotredecim and M. tredecim overlap, male calling songs (and female song preferences) of these species have evolved to become more distinct. In this overlap zone, M. neotredecim songs are much higher-pitched, while M. tredecim songs are slightly lower-pitched. This suggests that the songs have evolved to reduce wasteful sexual interactions between the species.

NEOCICADA (1 species)

Neocicada are medium-sized, delicate cicadas that sometimes co-emerge with periodical cicadas.

Neocicada hieroglyphica (Say)

OKANAGANA (ca. 36 species)

Okanagana are medium-sized, dark-bodied cicadas that are sometimes confused with periodical cicadas. They are usually found in small numbers, but in some years much denser populations emerge. Individual males tend to call from a single location for long periods of time; females approach the males directly for mating.

Okanagana canadensis (Prov.)

Okanagana rimosa (Say)

TIBICEN (46 species)

Cicadas belonging to the genus Tibicen are large-bodied cicadas, usually with green and brown markings. These are the "dog day" cicadas of late summer and fall.

Tibicen auletes (Germar)

Tibicen canicularis (Harris)

Tibicen tibicen (Linne) [T. chloromera (Walker)]

Tibicen latifasciata

Tibicen linnei (Smith and Grossbeck)

Tibicen lyricen (DeGeer)

Tibicen marginalis Walker

Tibicen pruinosa (Say)

Tibicen resonans Walker

Tibicen robinsonianus Davis

Tibicen similaris

Tibicen virescens