Molting cicada

Dozens, maybe hundreds, of brown, cicada-shaped husks are clinging to walls, fences, plants, and furniture in my garden this summer, showing where the buzzing insects sloughed off their old skins. Those unpromising looking shells would make anyone think the cicada an unlovely insect.

But a chance encounter with a newly emerging cicada taught me that they’re actually rather jewel-like.

Tell-tale holes in the decomposed granite around the stock-tank pond have indicated where some cicadas are emerging from their quiet underground existence. The holes and castoff skins are usually all I ever see, so I felt lucky to come upon this one as it molted on the back of a chair.

It may not be the belle of the ball, but it’s still a fascinating creature.

All material © 2006-2010 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

22 Responses

  1. Great shots! I love cicadas… Isn’t it amazing that something that big can come out of a skin so tiny?

  2. Cyndy says:

    Pam, Those are super captures! Amazing how beautiful they are in close detail…

  3. Darla says:

    How in the world did you capture such intricate detail? Beautiful photos. I actually saw one the other day and I too, felt a little special.

  4. Floridagirl says:

    Beautiful beast! I always admire these creatures, and you got some great close-up shots! Pretty cool to see one emerging. As beautiful as I think they are, I am glad we have cicada killers in this garden to control their numbers.

  5. The husks/emerging insect combo is so bizarre-looking and so entirely cool at the same time!

  6. Heather says:

    Thanks, Pam! I loved sharing this with my kids.

  7. Wonderful photos, Pam! Dozens of shells in my garden rather than hundreds, and no sign of the cicadas themselves. But their sound is incredibly loud… imagine it’s even louder at your house.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  8. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    You are lucky to see this. I have only seen it one time ever. I think it is facinating. Great photos too. I too have these little husks and critters in the garden now. Usually I see the holes before seeing anything else. Speaking of jewels, you can take those little husks and put a mixture of glue and seed beads into the husk, let it dry and you have quite the conversation piece. I was given some that had been then glued onto a piece of bark. Quite the sculpture. A fun project for youngsters or the young at heart.

  9. meemsnyc says:

    These are great photos! Nice that you can see it up close like that!

  10. chuck b. says:

    Great soil amendment too, huh? :)

  11. Layanee says:

    Jewel like indeed!

  12. Scott Weber says:

    OMG…I sure do remember seeing those all around our property back when I was growing up in Nebraska. I agree, it’s pretty much the only visual evidence of them we really got to see. The racket they made though…wow, who would have thought such a small creature could be so loud! Then again, when it’s a couple hundred of them going at once…haha!


  13. RBell says:

    Awesome discovery – way cool! So neat to happen upon one in transition.

  14. Chookie says:

    You WERE lucky, if yours usually do what ours do and come out at night! What a pretty green — but then, I love all cicadas. Our most common Sydney cicada is called a greengrocer and is a the colour of Kermit, growing about 2 inches long. How big was this fellow?

    About an inch and a half long. Your Kermit cicada sounds pretty. —Pam

  15. Amy says:

    Those are fascinating and I have never seen one that up close before. All I know is that they are noisy little things!

  16. Bonnie says:

    Dang, look at those eyes!

  17. Hello Pam,

    I hear the cicadas outside as I type this. Your pictures show how interesting this insect is.

  18. Megan says:

    Amazing shots of the newly hatched baby. It’s beautiful, in a funky kind of way. weird.

  19. Les says:

    It would not be summer without this creature’s music. Wonderful photography.

  20. Bren says:

    It is amazing to see these little critters can handle the heat down in Texas. I just shared this post on Twitter. Love following YOU – your garden information is very useful to growers everywhere!
    Happy Summer Gardening to you Pam.

  21. What incredible photos! I’m jonesing for the sound of cicadas because it means my deepest, darkest Sydney winter is over! Like Chookie says above, our most common cicada is the greengrocer, but we also have one called black prince. I remember when I was a kid catching the black prince cicadas and taking them to the local pharmacy. All these years later and I’m not sure why…….

  22. ESP says:

    You KNOW I loved this post Pam! Great photography! So bizarre with their wide set eyes.