Tibicina haematodes in the Czech Republic

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"This website was created with the financial support of the EEA Grants 2009–2014 and the Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic. Responsibility for its contents fully lies with the Masaryk University and the website may in no circumstances be considered to be the opinion of the donor or of the Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic."

Project name: Distribution and Biology of the Vineyard Cicada (Tibicina haematodes) in the Czech Republic

Project Nr.: MGSII-46

Project location: Brno, Prague, Archlebov and other localities in South Moravian, Olomoucký, Central Bohemian, and Ústecký Regions

Financial support: EEA grants, Small Grants Scheme (SGSII) entitled “Action Plans for Endangered Species II”, support area 2: “Revision and Preparation of New Action Plans and Management Plans for Endangered Plant and Animal Species”

Total resources: 172,200 CZK incl. VAT

Financing: Financial resources from EEA Grants were assigned in the amount of 146,370 CZK, which was 85% of the anticipated total project expenditure. The state budget granted financial resources in the amount of 25,830 CZK, which was 15% of the anticipated total project expenditure.

Project duration: 19.1. 2015 – 31.12. 2016

Project guarantee: Mgr. Igor Malenovský, Ph.D., Department of Botany and Zoology, Faculty of Science, Masaryk University, E-mail: malenovsky@sci.muni.cz

Recommended citation of this website: Malenovský I. (2016): Rozšíření a biologie cikády viničné (Tibicina haematodes) v České republice. Ústav botaniky a zoologie, Přírodovědecká fakulta, Masarykova univerzita, Brno, http://botzool.sci.muni.cz/cikada-vinicna

Project objectives and scope:

The Vineyard Cicada, Tibicina haematodes (Scopoli, 1763), is a thermophilous insect species, critically endangered and legally protected in the Czech Republic (Annex III to Decree No. 395/1992 Coll. as amended by Decree No. 175/2006 Coll.). Its current occurrence in the Czech Republic and details concerning its endangerment were insufficiently known. This project aimed at gathering basic scientific data needed to prepare a conservation action plan for this species. Particularly, the project aimed to confirm the occurrence of T. haematodes in the Czech Republic, to revise its historical localities in the country, to assess its current population size, and to reveal details of its biology, threats and possibilities of their mitigation.

Project activities and their results:

Basic characteristics of the Vineyard Cicada

The Vineyard Cicada (Tibicina haematodes) is a member of the insect order Hemiptera, suborder Auchenorrhyncha, and the family Cicadidae (cicadas). Cicadas are closely related to leafhoppers, treehoppers and spittlebugs and less closely related e.g. to true bugs. Like most of their hemipteran relatives, cicadas are exclusively phytophagous and feed on plant sap which they extract from their host plants through piercing-sucking mouthparts. Cicadas differ from other hemipterans in several morphological and physiological traits, of which the most striking are their large body size, the capacity of their males to produce sounds through vibration of a paired membrane at the base of their abdomen, and a long larval development on plant roots in the soil, taking several years. The larvae are well-adapted to the subterranean life; e.g., they possess fossorial (digging) fore legs. The final larval stage leaves the soil to moult to an adult aboveground. Empty larval skins (exuviae) can be subsequently found on plant stems, tree trunks, etc. The exuviae of T. haematodes are characteristic for their large size (26–30 mm), shiny brown surface, and the specific arrangement of spines on their fore femora (Kudryasheva 1979). Adults of T. haematodes differ from other central European cicada species in their large size (body length 38–44 mm including folded wings, wing span 75–85 mm) and light red or orange (rarely greenish) forewing venation.

The Vineyard Cicada (Tibicina haematodes) – a dry-mounted adult with spread wings, dorsal view (a specimen from the collections of the Moravian Museum, Brno).

The Vineyard Cicada (Tibicina haematodes) – a dry-mounted adult with folded wings, lateral view (a specimen from the collections of the Moravian Museum, Brno).

The Vineyard Cicada (Tibicina haematodes) – a skin (exuvia) of the fifth (final) larval stage, lateral view (a specimen from the collections of the Moravian Museum, Brno).

Review of available information on the distribution and biology of the Vineyard Cicada

The first step of the project was to review available literature on the distribution and biology of the Vineyard Cicada in its entire distribution area (bibliography here) and to check museum collections for voucher specimens documenting its historical occurrence in the Czech Republic. Relevant information is summarized below. Tibicina haematodes is distributed in most countries of southern Europe (except the Iberian peninsula), southern parts of central and eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Transcaucasia, and Iran (Nast 1972, Sanborn 2014; data published in the past from the Iberian peninsula, northern Africa, Turkey, and perhaps also most of the Middle East probably refer to other, closely related species of the genus, not T. haematodes; cf. Puissant & Sueur 2000, Sueur et al. 2004, Sueur et al. 2007). The northern limit of the current distribution of T. haematodes reaches Paris environs and Alsace in France (Sueur & Puissant 2002, Puissant 2006, Puissant 2012, André 2014), Rhineland-Palatinate, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria in Germany (Nickel 2003), and Trenčín, Strážovské vrchy Hills and Banská Bystrica environs in Slovakia (Okáli & Janský 1998). In the Czech Republic, T. haematodes was reliably reported only from the southern slopes of the Ždánický les Hills in south-eastern Moravia, namely from the cadastres of the villages of Archlebov and Lovčice (Hodonín district); the first published records from there date back to the very end of the 19th century (Klvaňa 1900). The species was confirmed from Archlebov also by Valoušek (1938), Teyrovský (1938), Lang (1941), and Dlabola (1954). A few voucher specimens from Archlebov are deposited in the entomological collections of the Moravian Museum in Brno, the Slovak National Museum in Bratislava, and the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle in Paris; the last voucher specimen was collected in 1972. In 1980’s and 1990’s, T. haematodes was considered as extinct in the Czech Republic (Lauterer 1992). Previously unknown historical dry-mounted specimens were found during the project in the collections of the National Museum in Prague, bearing the following locality label data: “Olomouc (Klvaňa)” and “Qualen Salezl a.d. Elbe, Klučák” (= the village of Chvalov near Dolní Zálezly in the Elbe River valley in the Ústecký Region in north-western Bohemia). Although there was no indication of date on the labels, all these specimens were probably collected in the second half of the 19th century. The series from “Olomouc” might have been mislabeled and the corresponding specimens probably came from Archlebov or Lovčice (Klvaňa did not mention any record from Olomouc in his paper from 1900 or later and the species was not listed in a general text on insect fauna from the Olomouc region by Hudeček 1928).

In other countries, T. haematodes is considered as a species living in open forests, notably sparse xerothermophilous oak woodlands on slopes (Kudryasheva 1979, Puissant 2006, Sueur & Puissant 2002, Holzinger 2009b, Puissant 2012, Hertach & Nagel 2013), at low to medium elevations: 150–500 m in France (Puissant 2006), 100–350 m in Germany (Nickel 2003), 200–400 m in Slovakia (Okáli & Janský 1998), 200–700 m in the Caucasus (Kudryasheva 1979). In the Mediterranean, it also inhabits evergreen woodland (Schedl 1989). However, in France, numerous populations are also known from vineyards and seem to tolerate a fairly intensive management in many places (Puissant 2006). Also in Germany T. haematodes is more or less confined to vineyard regions, being usually restricted to upper parts of warm and sunny slopes with open xerothermophilous woodland and vineyards on Tertiary limestones and sandstones with light and calcareous soils; in contrast, it seems to be absent on eruptive rocks (Vogel 1935, 1937; Nickel 2003). Similarly, in Slovakia, it was reported from nearby of vineyards on sunny slopes in the oak woodland vegetation zone (Okáli & Janský 1998).

Adults occur from mid April to mid August, but most specimens in central Europe were recorded from early June to mid July (this period overlaps the grapevine bloom time; Schedl 1973, Gogala & Gogala 1999, Sueur & Puissant 2002, Nickel 2003, Puissant 2006). Each adult specimen is supposed to live two or three weeks (Stadler 1927):. Adults feed by sucking sap from xylem vessels of various woody plants (e.g., grape vine) and can feed from a same position on a plant continuously for more than two hours (Vogel 1937). Adult males produce loud calling songs (see below) during warm and sunny days with temperatures above 22 °C (Puissant 2012). These songs allure females for copulation. The males usually call from elevated positions, such as tree crowns and foliage in upper parts of grapevine plants (Schwoerbel 1957b, Sueur & Aubin 2003b). The calling songs attract also other males which leads to their aggregations and chorusing (Sueur 2003). If the population is large enough, the calling songs of individual males often overlap one another as the males interact with other calling males in the so called „domino effect“ and compete for a „last word“ (Sueur & Aubin 2002). However, direct aggressive behaviour was never observed among males in T. haematodes (Sueur 2003). Close to calling males, there are often silent „sattelite“ males (Sueur 2003). When a female comes to a male at a distance of ca. 1 m, the male starts to emit a different type of song, a courtship song, composed of short echemes, preceded by a few wing cliks which can be hardly heard also by a human ear from a close distance (Boulard 1995, Boulard & Mondon 1995, Sueur & Aubin 2004). The females do not emit any acoustic signals. When in contact, the male grasps the female with its fore, mid and hind legs; the copulation takes ca. 20 min (Boulard & Mondon 1995). Females lay their eggs into annual shoots and thin branches of various woody plants, such as blackthorn (Prunus spinosa), grape vine (Vitis vinifera), hornbeam (Carpinus betulus), and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris); they cut the bark by a saw-like ovipositor down to the upper wood layer, making longitudinal, 5–8 mm long slits and into each of these slits they place ca. 30 whitish elongate eggs grouped in two symmetrical chambers along the slit axis (there can be ca. 10–13 such slits in a row on a branch; Vogel 1935, 1937, Boulard & Mondon 1995). As in other species of cicadas, the first instar larvae (body size ca. 1.5 mm) probably hatch in 1–3 months after the oviposition (Boulard & Mondon 1995; i.e., in late summer), fall down to the ground and penetrate into the soil. Then the development continues underground (in a depth of ca. 40 cm according to Vogel 1937 to a maximum of 1.5 m below the ground according to Stadler 1925/1926) and includes four larval moults. The larvae inhabit small chambers adjacent to roots of woody plants. Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) and grape vine (Vitis vinifera) were confirmed by direct observation as host plants of T. haematodes in Germany (Vogel 1937, Nickel 2003). However, also other species of trees and shrubs are likely hosts as most cicadas are polyphagous in their larval as well as adult stages. The total length of the larval development of T. haematodes is known only imperfectly: three years were reported for T. haematodes in literature (Schedl 2000) but it can probably take even longer and the duration might vary depending on climatic conditions and availability/quality of nutrition (in another European species, Cicada orni, a variation of larval development time of 2–6 years was recorded for a same batch of eggs: Boulard & Mondon 1995; the development of Cicadetta spp. is supposed to take 4–5 years: Kudryasheva 1979). The final larval instar digs itself out of the soil, leaving a round hole of ca. 1.5 cm diameter usually lacking any pile of soil particles around (Boulard & Mondon 1995). The molting to an adult can happen at various times during a day (probably not in the night) on stout herb stalks, foots of tree trunks, vineyard posts, etc., ca. 30 cm above the ground (Schwoerbel 1957b, Boulard & Mondon 1995). The whole process of molt including hardening of the cuticle and spreading of the wings takes ca. three hours (Boulard & Mondon 1995).

In southern Europe, T. haematodes is a relatively common species (e.g., Gogala et al. 2005, Puissant 2006). However, it is considered as „critically endangered“ in Austria (Holzinger 2009b), Switzerland (Hertach & Nagel 2013) and Slovakia (Annex 4 to Decree No. 93/1999 Coll. of Slovak laws, part 41), and „strongly endangered“ in Germany (Nickel et al. 2016).

Revision of the distribution of the Vineyard Cicada in the Czech Republic

Tibicina haematodes was rediscovered in the Czech Republic in 2008 near Archlebov, on the Dubový vrch Hill, ca. 2 km N of the village. This record was made by D. Pokora, amateur naturalist from Brno, who took a photograph of a dead specimen lying on a path at a vineyard margin. The speciesʼ presence was confirmed at the same locality by I. Malenovský in July 2010 and 2014 (by observation of several calling males), and by detailed surveys in 2015 and 2016 (see below).

During the project, more than 40 field excursions were made from May to August in 2015 and 2016 to find if T. haematodes occurs also elsewhere in the Czech Republic. Many other localities were visited in southern and central Moravia (Ždánický les, Kyjovská pahorkatina, Litenčická pahorkatina, Mikulovská pahorkatina, Boleradická vrchovina, Pavlovské vrchy Hills, Moravian Karst, and Kosíř Hill), central and north-western Bohemia (Polabí Lowland, Bohemian Karst, and České středohoří Hills). These sites were preselected based on the presence of potentially suitable habitats for T. haematodes, particularly well-preserved thermophilous oak woodland, dry grasslands, and vineyards. Acoustic detection of calling males was the main method used during the field surveys as the male calling song is generally the most striking manifestation of cicadas. More than 60 populations of five different cicada species were recorded (three of which were ascertained in the Czech Republic for the first time) but T. haematodes could not be found anywhere except for the Dubový vrch Hill. The historical sites on the Maleny Hill near Archlebov and in Lovčice village environs (Klvaňa 1900, Valoušek 1938) were apparently destroyed by a transformation of local vineyards into arable land and terraces (this took place in 1980’s in the case of the Maleny Hill). Neither was Tibicina haematodes confirmed in Dolní Zálezly environs in the Elbe valley near Ústí nad Labem. The vineyards at the latter site were destroyed already in 1910‘s following the Phylloxera (Daktulosphaira vitifoliae) invasion and were replaced by buildings, gardens and alien tree species (Aillanthus altissima, Robinia pseudacacia) groves.

Thus, the Dubový vrch Hill near Archlebov is the only currently known locality of T. haematodes in the Czech Republic. It is quite isolated on the northern edge of the general distribution area of the species. The nearest conspecific populations are known from the Vienna environs in Austria (Schedl 1973, 2002) and Bratislava and Trenčín environs in Slovakia (Okáli & Janský 1998).

Bioacoustic investigation on the Děvín Hill in the Pálava Protected Lanscape Area (July 2015).

Bioacoustic sampling and analysis

The cicada male calling songs are species-specific and usually allow a reliable identification (often more easily and reliably than with the use of morphological or molecular characters). Given the extreme rarity and legal protection of Tibicina haematodes in the Czech Republic prohibiting any collection of specimens, its population in Archlebov was studied and documented mainly through sound recordings.

The male calling song of T. haematodes cannot be mistaken for any other insect species in central Europe. It is composed of continuous, monotonous churring sequences (echemes), ca. 15 s long, alternating with somewhat shorter pauses. Each sequence usually starts with a few (ca. 2–6) fast changes of sound amplitude (sample from Archlebov here; see also Sueur & Aubin 2002, 2003). This song has inspired two local folk names for T. haematodes: people in Archlebov call it „crčák/cvrčák“ (= a chirper) while in Rheinhessen, a wine growing region in south-western Germany, it is called a „Scheereschliffer“ ( = knife grinder; Vogel 1935). The dominant frequency is between 6.5 and 8.5 kHz, which makes the sound easily perceptible by human ear (in contrast with the other cicada species in the Czech Republic, the songs of which have frequencies higher than 10 kHz). The male calling song of T. haematodes is also quite loud (ca. 80 dB at a distance of 0.5 m; Sueur & Aubin 2002) and it can be heard at a distance of more than 200 m in open landscape in calm weather.

An oscillogramme of the Vineyard Cicada (Tibicina haematodes) male calling song recorded in Archlebov (at the air temperature of 33 °C), showing a sequence of four echemes of ca. 15 s alternating with ca. 8 s long pauses.

A spectrogramme and an oscillogramme of the Vineyard Cicada (Tibicina haematodes) male calling song showing the fourth echeme from the previous figure in detail. The song is characteristic for several abrupt changes of the sound amplitude in a short time at each echeme beginning. The displayed song reaches its maximum sound intensity at 7.1 kHz, as marked by the yellow-red colour on the spectrogramme. Both figures were produced in the R package Seewave (Sueur et al. 2008).

Biology and ecology of the Vineyard Cicada in the Czech Republic

The population of T. haematodes on the Dubový vrch Hill near Archlebov occupies an area of ca. 14 ha on a slope with south-eastern/south-western orientation at the altitude of 325–370 m a.s.l. This area comprises several habitats: vineyards (managed in organic and IPM regimes), small orchards and fallows with dry grasslands, dense scrub, a Pannonian oak-hornbeam forest, and forest clearings of different ages.

An overall view of the locality of the Vineyard Cicada (Tibicina haematodes) on the Dubový vrch Hill near Archlebov, South Moravia, Czech Republic in June 2015.

The population was monitored in 2015 (May–August) and 2016 (June–July) in regular, weekly to 10-day intervals. At each visit of the site, calling males were tracked down acoustically and their exact position was recorded through GPS. Calling males were recorded from the beginning of the second decade of June till the beginning of the third decade of July (no females could be observed but they can be expected to live longer, maybe till the beginning of August). Males were calling almost exclusively from crowns of tall trees (usually at 15–20 m above the ground), mostly oaks (Quercus petraea), the dominant tree species at the site. Ocasionally also lime (Tilia cordata), hornbeam (Carpinus betulus), Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris), larch (Larix decidua) and sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) were also used by the males for calling and only very few specimens were observed on low trees such as cherry (Cerasus domestica), apple (Malus domestica), and hornbeam and field maple (Acer campestre) coppice. The males clearly preferred trees at the sunny forest margin bordering the vineyards, dry grassland and forest clearings, or trees protuberant over the scrub between the vineyards. Only few specimens were observed on sunny tree-tops in a closed forest, but in this case always at a maximum distance of 90 m from the forest margin. No specimen was recorded calling from the vine. Males were calling in sunny and more or less calm weather between 10:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. with a peak of activity between 2 and 4 p.m., at air temperatures from 19 to 33 °C (in shade). In the lower part of this temperature range, males were calling exclusively from sunlit substrates where the substrate temperature exceeded 23°C, or their calling was sporadic and short. The males tended to stay for a long time (hours) on the same place, flying individuals were only rarely observed between neighbour trees, only a few metres distant. In 2015, 17 individual observations of calling male specimens were made throughout the season (the highest recorded number of specimens during one visit of the site was six). In 2016, a total of 15 individual observations were made (max. four specimens during one visit). Due to the life span of an adult male supposed to be 2–3 weeks according to the literature, same individuals may have been observed repeatedly on different visits. Even if silent sattelite males and females were almost surely present at the site too but remained unnoticed, the population size of T. haematodes in Archlebov can be estimated to include at most a few dozens of specimens. Thus, the species can be rightly considered as critically endangered and facing the risk of local extinction in the Czech Republic.

The preferred location of the Vineyard Cicada (Tibicina haematodes) males for calling: sun-exposed crowns of tall tress, mainly oaks (Quercus petraea), at vineyard margins (Archlebov, June 2015).

The larval development probably takes place underground on sunny places with a low or sparse herb vegetation close to roots of trees or shrubs, i.e. along ecotones between the oak woodland and vineyards or dry grassland. However, no larval exuviae or other traces of cicada development could be found to confirm this expectation (Archlebov, Dubový vrch Hill, June 2016).

Preparation of a report for the decision to establish an action plan for the Vineyard Cicada

Based on the data acquired during the project, a report for the decision to establish an action plan for T. haematodes was prepared. The species is relatively common and probably not threatened in southern Europe. However, in the Czech Republic where it occurs at the northern edge of its range, this species represents a unique biogeographical as well as cultural element (as the only large cicada in the Czech fauna, producing loud sounds, it is reflected in the local folk tradition, e.g. in songs and proverbs). Therefore, appropriate conservation measures should be taken to support its single population in the country. These should include a continuation of environmentally friendly management of the extant vineyards on the Dubový vrch Hill and its environs excluding insectides, herbicides and artificial fertilizers. It is also necessary to adjust the forest management in the adjacent oak woodland, particularly to prevent clear cutting and outplanting of non-autochthonous tree species (Scots pine, European larch, Norway spruce). Natural processes should be given priority to reestablish open oak woodland at extant clearings. Dense and shady parts of the extant woodland should be partly opened. It is also important to preserve belts of native shrub species (Prunus spinosa, Ligustrum vulgare, Acer campestre) at vineyard and forest margins. The area suitable for cicada development could be enlarged by partial clearing of slopes with former orchards and fallows adjacent to the vineyards from dense stands of invasive scrub and alien herbs (Solidago canadensis, Calamagrostis epigejos). Areas with fragments of species-rich dry grasslands should be mown periodically (at most once a year, in a mosaic-like fashion).

Project publicity

Besides this website, the project was presented to professional biologists and students within the Zoological seminar held at the Department of Botany and Zoology, Faculty of Science, Masaryk University, Brno (5 November 2015), and at the professional scientific meetings „Zoologické dny 2016“ at the University of South Bohemia, České Budějovice (12 February 2016), and the 23th Central European Auchenorrhyncha Meeting in Jarnoltówek, Poland (3 September 2016). Two oral presentations were also organized for the public in the region where the Vineyard Cicada occurs: at the Jančovka club in Kyjov (17 February 2016) and in Archlebov (3 April 2016).

Project publicity at the Zoological seminar at the Department of Botany and Zoology, Faculty of Science, Masaryk University, Brno (5 November 2015) and in Archlebov (3 April 2016).