Annual Cicadas of Arkansas


Go here to see my photo gallery of annual cicadas from the 2004 season.

These are the eight species of cicada I have identified in the state of Arkansas. These cicadas occur in other states as well, along with some other species not described here. All are of the genus Tibicen except one. All of the Tibicen cicadas possess a distinctive crown-shaped marking on their thorax between the pronotum and the abdomen (the pronotum is the shield-like area behind the head). The photos I have at the moment are from the Great Lakes Cicada Page and the University of Michigan Cicada Page until I can photograph all of them myself this summer. I've included my SUSPECTED scientific name along with my own personal working nickname for each one.

Tibicen robinsoniana
("Brown Annual Cicada")

Description: Adult around 1.75" not counting wings. Pronotum brown mottled with darker brown, sometimes having a bluish green stripe down the center. Thorax black with the crown-shaped marking brown or reddish brown and often blacked out through the middle. Wing veins bluish green. Eyes chocolate brown to black. Abdomen black, sometimes with gold iridescence. Underside strikingly white with a bold black stripe down the middle of the abdomen. Last instar nymph, 1.25"-1.5", has brown pronotum with a faint greenish pattern on the thorax. Wing pads bright blue-green.

Song: A lengthy series of short grunt-like buzzes, usually about one per second and lasting up to 2 minutes. Most commonly heard in the morning hours to early afternoon, but can occasionally be heard late in the day as well.

Tibicen chloromera
("Dog Day Cicada")

Description: Adult is around 1.25"-1.5" in length, not counting the wings. Pronotum deep forest green, thorax mostly black with a VERY FAINT orangish crown shape visible. Wing veins bright green. Eyes dark green to black. Abdomen black, often with two white spots near the junction of the abdomen and thorax. Underside mostly white. In males, the plates covering the sound organs are noticeably elongated, much more so than in any other cicada in the area. Last instar nymph, 1"-1.25", is golden brown with dark green pronotum and green wing pads.

Song: Begins with a low, steady buzz, sometimes barely audible. This buzz then rises into a loud, very shrill 5- to 10-second trilling that increases in volume and rises in pitch and speed until abruptly dying off. The cicada's call sometimes dies off into the introductory buzz and is held until the call is repeated 1-2 minutes later. This call is most commonly heard in the hours of most intense sunlight, usually between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., but can be heard at any time during the day.

Tibicen dorsata
("Golden Annual Cicada")

Description: Adult is between 1.75" and 2" in length, not counting the wings. Pronotum bright yellow or golden (hence the nickname). Thorax Black with the distinctive crown-shaped marking gold or rarely greenish gold. Wing veins bright yellow or gold, matching the color of the pronotum. Abdomen black, sometimes with a faint white dusting. Underside brownish toward the center and white toward the edges. Eyes grey-white or brownish yellow. This species is common in low-lying areas and bottom-lands near rivers and can form dense aggregations and very loud choruses.

Song:A loud, shrill, pulsing buzz lasting 30-60 seconds. The combined chorus of many adults in one area produces a shrill, ragged buzz that is distinctive from any other cicada species. The song is more common in the evening but can be heard at any time during the daylight hours.

Tibicen pruinosa
("Green Annual Cicada")

Description: A personal favorite of mine. Adult around 1.5" not counting wings. Pronotum bright forest green, usually with a lighter shade of green down the center. Thorax black with crown-shaped marking a vivid green to lime green. Wing veins a dull green. Eyes usually dark gray, but can be black, greenish black, or bluish black. Abdomen black with two conspicuous white markings at the junction of the thorax and abdomen. In males, there is usually a very thin white crescent-shaped mark on the side of the abdomen, from the bottom about two-thirds of the way up, fringing the resonating chamber. Underside is boldly white with a brownish black streak down the center. Last instar nymph, 1.25", has dark green pronotum and greenish markings on the thorax. Wing pads greenish gold. The rest of the body, like almost all final-instar nymphs, is a dull golden brown.

Song: This cicada, like T. dorsata, can form large aggregations and can be quite loud. The song is among the most familiar of any cicada song in the state. It is a loud buzz which fairly rhythmically rises and falls in pitch about 1-2 times per second. The call lasts around 20 seconds before dying away in a sustained but fading tone. This cicada sings almost exclusively at dusk and sometimes continues into the early evening hours.

Tibicen lyricen

Description: Adult around 1.25" in length, not counting wings. Often heard but rarely seen. Very similar to T. pruinosa in coloration, but thorax color is duller and often fringed with an orangish hue. Abdomen usually lacks the two white spots and the male crescent mark. Underside is similar to that of T. robinsoniana in that it is white with a bold black stripe bisecting the abdomen.

Song: A continuous rattle lasting about 10-15 seconds before dying away. This cicada commonly sings in the late afternoon and dusk hours but can be heard almost any time of the day.

Tibicen davisi
"Harvest Fly"

Description: One of our smaller cicadas (Adult around 1"). Looks like a miniature T. pruinosa almost exactly. This cicada is the last to go, with emergence lasting into late September and sometimes early October (hence "Harvest Fly").

Song: This cicada's distinctive call lasts about 10-12 seconds and sounds very much like a circular table saw cutting through a wooden plank. The call can be heard at virtually any time during the day, although it has a slight preference to late morning and early afternoon.

Tibicen auletes
("Grand Western Cicada")

Description: This cicada is more common in the more upland areas of the state, generally in the northwest half. Adult 2" to 2.25" in length, not counting the wings. Arkansas' largest cicada, arguably the prettiest, and certainly the loudest. Pronotum greenish brown, thorax black with crown-shaped marking chocolate brown to greenish brown. ENTIRE BODY COVERED WITH A WHITISH DUSTING, as though rolled in powdered sugar. Wing veins greenish brown to olive. Wings usually appear longer in comparison to the body than with the other species, especially in males. Eyes distinctively pinkish to purple. Abdomen black but almost completely dusted in white. Sometimes dusting fades from the abdomen, but a broad white band near the tip will always remain. Underside pale gray to white. Last instar nymph 1.5"-2" and distinctively greenish all over with pink or purple eyes. This cicada tends to be nearly absent from some areas while relatively abundant in others.

Song: A rich, VERY loud series of legato (connected) buzzes lasting 10-20 seconds. The notes hold steady in pitch but grow louder and longer before dying away in a sustained but fading note. This cicada, like T. pruinosa, sings almost exclusively at dusk and is sometimes heard into the early evening.

Tibicen auletes newly emerged.

Neocicada heiroglyphica
('Pygmy Cicada')

Description: Our smallest cicada (hence the name once again). Adult about 3/4" in length (sometimes slightly smaller), not counting wings. Pronotum and thorax mottled bright green. Wings often poorly developed and held somewhat farther out from the body than in the other species. Wing veins pale green. Abdomen usually brown; sometimes brownish black. Underside pale green to whitish; in males the plates covering the sound organs are very small and more difficult to discern than those of Tibicen cicadas.

Song: This cicada is the earliest to emerge, sometimes doing so as early as Memorial Day. Call is a high-pitched, clear buzz, USUALLY HAVING A STUTTER-LIKE ENTRY, sustained for 4-5 seconds, then dying away. Tends to sing more during the late afternoon to around dusk, but can occasionally be heard earlier.

Tibicen aurifera
("Field Cicada")

Description: Adult around 7/8" in length, not counting the wings. Similar in coloration to T. pruinosa and T. lyricen but considerably smaller. Abdomen usually more elongated, causing the wings to appear shorter in comparison with the body. This cicada is more common in the southeastern parts of the state. It has adapted to the lack of trees in some of these areas, often calling from tall grass in open fields, hence the nickname.

Song: A rapid, irregular series of katydid-like chirps, sounding similar to a small car engine trying to start.

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