13-year cicada species:
• Magicicada tredecim (Walsh and Riley 1868)
• Magicicada neotredecim (Marshall and Cooley 2000)
• Magicicada tredecassini (Alexander and Moore 1962)
• Magicicada tredecula (Alexander and Moore 1962)
17-year cicada species:
• Magicicada septendecim (L. 1758)
• Magicicada cassini (Fisher 1851)
• Magicicada septendecula (Alexander and Moore 1962)
Magicicada septendecim is a 17-year cicada, and the largest and most familiar of the all the periodic cicadas. It is morphologically and behaviorally similar to M. tredecim and M. neotredecim; these three species are classed together as the closely related “decim” group, and share a similar call, which sounds like “Pharaoh”.
(Cooley, 2011; Cooley and Marshall 2011; Wikipedia 2011)
Magicicada septendecim is known from Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin, and West Virginia (U.S.A.) (Sanborn & Phillips 2013).
- Sanborn, A.F., and P.K. Phillips. 2013. Biogeography of the Cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) of North America, North of Mexico. Diversity 5: 166-239 doi:10.3390/d5020166 (CC-BY)
Periodical cicadas (members of the genus Magicicada) are only found in the United States, east of the Great Plains. Magicicada septendecim is found in the eastern, western, and especially northern parts of this area, thus being primarily located in the northern midwestern and eastern United States (Simon 1996).
Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Like all adult members of the Magicicada genus, Magicicada septendecim is black in color and about 1.5 inches in length. Its eyes and legs are generally reddish-orange, and the wings are clear with orange veins. Magicicada septendecim is the largest Magicicada species. Characteristics that distinguish the species from other Magicicada species include broad orange stripes on the abdominal underside and an orange spot on the side of the thorax (Road 1991, Cooley and Marshall 1997).
Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Habitat and Ecology
The majority of the life of Magicicada septendecim is spent in an underground or subterranean habitat. The area in which a periodical cicada brood is located must contain a large population of deciduous trees, on whose roots the cicadas feed during the underground nymph stages. The trees are also necesary for the molt into adulthood, choruses, and egg-laying (Boyer 1996).
Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: forest
Other Habitat Features: suburban
Magicicada septendecim spends the vast majority of its 17-year life underground, in several juvenile stages, where it feeds by sucking juices from the roots of plants, especially deciduous trees (Boyer 1996). Although the majority of time during the adult portion of the cicada's life is spent engaging in reproductive behavior, the adults do feed by sucking fluids out of trees (Cooley and Marshall 1997).
Life History and Behavior
The17-year life cycle of Magicicada septendecim is of critical importance to its reproductive behavior. All members of the genus Magicicada remain in groups known as broods. In the case of M. septendecim, single brood emerges from underground together once every 17 years . In a year when a given brood has emerged to reproduce, female Magicicada septendecim mature and lay eggs in the twigs of trees. Hatching occurs during the middle of the summer, and the nymphs burrow one to three meters underground. Magicicada septendecim nymphs remain underground for 17 years, feeding and going through several juvenile stages. In the spring of the 17th year, the nymphs build exit tunnels, and generally emerge during the month of May. An entire brood sometimes emerges during one night. The nymphs then attach themselves to the bark of a nearby tree and undergo one final molt, becoming adults. Within four or five days of emergence, the males form singing choruses, as the females wait nearby. The males alternate between singing and flying until they find a female of their species willing to mate. Mating is achieved through copulation, and both males and females generally mate with several partners during the period. After a female has mated, she uses her needle-like egg-laying mechanism, called an ovipositor, to make small slits in twigs, where the eggs are to be layed. A single female can lay up to 500 eggs, and after this process, the female drops to the ground and dies. Neither the male nor the female lives past early July. The new nymphs, about 2.5 mm in length, hatch and journey to the ground, and the 17-year cycle begins anew (Cooley and Marshall 1997, Boyer 1996, Alexander 1990).
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- Needs updating
- 1994Vulnerable (V)
- 1990Vulnerable (V)
- 1988Vulnerable (V)
- 1986Vulnerable (V)
- 1983Vulnerable (V)
Although periodical cicadas are not commonly mentioned as threatened species, there is documentation of individuals possibly being harmed by human effects on the environment. During an emergence in a front yard in Chicago in 1990, many of the cicadas had very deformed wings. The use of lawn chemicals was one of the possible explantions for the deformities(Cooley and Marshall 1997). This species is listed as lower risk by the IUCN.
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: no special status
State of Michigan List: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: lower risk - near threatened
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
A periodical cicada chorus can become remarkably loud, and is thereby a nuisance to humans. The sheer numbers of a brood can also cause problems, as cicadas fluttering into cars and frightening drivers have caused automobile accidents. The most serious problem related to periodical cicadas is damage to trees. When female Magicicadas cut slits and lay eggs in twigs, the twigs may split, whither, and die. This problem, known as flagging, is not serious for mature trees, but it can greatly harm young trees. Thus, it is recomended that in areas of Magicicada broods, trees not be planted during the year before an expected emergence (Road 1991).
The very long life cycle and emergence in broods of Magicicada septendecim and related species is a relatively unique and fascinating phenomenon, and is heavily studied by the scientific community.
Magicicada septendecim, sometimes called the Pharaoh cicada or the 17 year locust, is native to Canada and the United States and is the largest and most northern species of periodical cicada with a 17-year life cycle.
Accounts of the species' life cycle cite reports of fifteen- to seventeen-year recurrences of enormous numbers of noisy emergent cicadas that people had written as early as 1737. Pehr Kalm, a Swedish naturalist visiting Pennsylvania and New Jersey in 1749 on behalf of his nation's government, observed in late May one such emergence. When reporting the event in a paper that a Swedish academic journal published in 1756, Kalm wrote:
The general opinion is that these insects appear in these fantastic numbers in every seventeenth year. Meanwhile, except for an occasional one which may appear in the summer, they remain underground.
There is considerable evidence that these insects appear every seventeenth year in Pennsylvania.
Kalm then described documents (including one that he had obtained from Benjamin Franklin) that had recorded in Pennsylvania the emergence from the ground of large numbers of cicadas during May 1715 and May 1732. He noted that the people who had prepared these documents had made no such reports in other years. Kalm further noted that others had informed him that they had seen cicadas only occasionally before the insects appeared in large swarms during 1749. He additionally stated that he had not heard any cicadas in Pennsylvania and New Jersey in 1750 in the same months and areas in which he had heard many in 1749. The 1715 and 1732 reports, when coupled with his own 1749 and 1750 observations, supported the previous "general opinion" that he had cited.
Based on Kalm's account and a specimen that Kalm had provided, Carl Linnaeus gave to the insect the Latin name of Cicada septendecim in the tenth edition of his Systema Naturae, which was published in Stockholm in 1758.
Like other species included in Magicicada, the insect's eyes and wing veins are reddish and its dorsal thorax is black. It is distinguished by broad orange stripes on its abdomen and a unique high-pitched song said to resemble someone calling "weeeee-whoa" or "Pharaoh," features it shares with the newly discovered 13-year species Magicicada neotredecim.
Because of similarities between M. septendecim and the two closely related 13-year species M. neotredecim and M. tredecim, the three species are often described together as "decim periodical cicadas."
- World Conservation Monitoring Centre (1996). "Magicicada septendecim". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2.3. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved August 10, 2007.
- Alexander, Richard D.; Moore, Thomas E. (1962). "The Evolutionary Relationships of 17-Year and 13-Year Cicadas, and Three New Species (Homoptera, Cicadidae, Magicicada)". University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. Retrieved 9 June 2011.
- Marlett, C.L. (1898). "The Periodical Cicada in Literature". The Periodical Cicada: An Account of Cicada Septendecim, Its Natural Enemies and the Means of Preventing its Injury, Together With A Summary of the Distribution of the Different Broods (Bulletin No. 14 - New Series, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Division of Entomology). Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office. pp. 112–118.
- Kritsky, Gene (2004). "John Bartram and the Periodical Cicadas: A Case Study". In Hoffmann, Nancy E. and Van Horne, John C. America's Curious Botanist: A Tercentennial Reappraisal of John Bartram 1699-1777. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The American Philosophical Society. pp. 43–51.
- Davis, J.J. (May 1953). "Pehr Kalm's Description of the Periodical Cicada, Magicicada septendecim L., from Kongl. Svenska Vetenskap Academiens Handlinger, 17:101-116, 1756, translated by Larson, Esther Louise (Mrs. K.E. Doak)". The Ohio Journal of Science 53: 139–140. Archived from the original on 2012-10-02. Republished by Knowledge Bank: The Ohio State University Libraries and Office of the Chief Information Officer. Retrieved 2012-10-02.
- Linnaei, Caroli (1758). "Insecta. Hemiptera. Cicada. Mannifera. septendecim.". Systema Naturae Per Regna Tria Naturae, Secundum Classes, Ordines, Genera, Species, Cum Characteribus, Differentiis, Synonymis, Locis 1 (10 ed.). Stockholm, Sweden: Laurentii Salvii. pp. 436–437.
- Stranahan, Nancy. "Nature Notes from the Eastern Forest". Arc of Appalachia. Retrieved 10 June 2011.
- "Periodical Cicada Page". University of Michigan. Retrieved 10 June 2011.