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Summer memories

December 14, 2012
Nymph exoskeleton

Nymph exoskeleton

Cicadas (Order Hemiptera, Suborder Auchenorrhyncha) are the sound and currency of my childhood. As a boy I used to listen to their deafening noise while having dinner on a summer’s eve. At school we used to trade them, dead of course. Greengrocers and Brown Bakers were legal tender in the playground and the rare Black Knight was the most coveted of all.

It is this time of year that the nymphs, which have spent their lives underground feeding on the sap from roots, emerge from the ground and take adult form. The strong burrowing front legs of the nymph, an adaption not needed by the adult,  can be seen in the exoskeleton image (left). On grass stems, branches and leaves the empty husks left behind after moulting look like terrestrial Darth Vaders.


This week I came across this adult that had just emerged from the shell. It’s like the Hans Christian Andersen story of the Ugly Duckling all over again.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Susan and Joel King permalink
    December 15, 2012 7:28 pm

    I haven’t seen them emerging for a long time. Once on a camping trip, in the morning, a lot of nymphs had climbed out of the ground and were on the gum tree trunks and we able to watch them emerge and dry out – amazing! Great photos


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