New Species of 17-Year Cicada Discovered in Connecticut

Nov 12, 2013

A new species of 17-year cicada, dubbed "magicicada septendecula" was discovered in North Branford this summer.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

A new species of 17-year cicada has been discovered in Connecticut. According to a report in The Hartford Courant, credit for the discovery goes to Chris Maier of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.

The bug, dubbed magicicada septendecula, was found in North Branford. It's smaller than Connecticut's other 17-year cicada species, magicicada septendecim, which gained fame this summer for its emergence (or lack of emergence) around the state.

John Cooley, an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut, said he stumbled upon the new cicadas about a week after Maier while he was taking survey notes for the Magicicada Project. The bugs were 100 feet up in a tree in North Branford.

"And by golly, I was just driving around with the windows open, taking the maps. And I heard this other species," Cooley said. "I ran across it and there it was."

Click below to hear Cooley describe the cicada song.

Cooley estimated there were "a couple hundred" bugs in the North Branford tree.

"It blows the mind, because you think, how in the heck did they get there?" Cooley said. "When there's none of them connecting up with the other populations."

Until now, Cooley said the closest sighting of magicicada septendecula was in the Hudson Valley or New Jersey, roughly 100 miles removed from the North Branford sighting. While these types of cicadas do fly, they don't cover such great distances.

Cooley said it's possible the bugs were brought to Connecticut in the root ball of a tree purchased at an out of state nursery or that they are a remnant population from the days when the glacier covering Connecticut retreated.

"The possibilities are intriguing, but it's one of those historical questions so I don't know that you can ever come up with the answer," Cooley said.

Cooley said he didn't obtain any samples of the bug, but that for entomologists studying cicadas, "acoustic sightings" are enough to go on record as having found a species in a new spot. Cooley said entomologists will work this sighting into some of the other odd findings from this year's 17-year cicada emergence, including the intriguing discovery of cicadas from Connecticut's Brood II hundreds and hundreds of miles away in Oklahoma.