A Cicada Passage From Nymph To Adult

On the morning of July 4, 2005, I spotted this little critter walking across the lawn.

Cicada nymph (62K)

It's a cicada nymph! Specifically, it's the nymph of Cicadidae Tibicen canicularis, the dogday harvestfly.

I parked him on the post of the back deck and there he clung. And yes, he's a boy cicada, as we'll soon see.

Cicada nymph on post (58K)

Soon his back split open...

Cicada splitting open (58K)

Cicada splitting open (45K)

...and he began to squeeze out.

Cicada04b (45K)

And we see where the term "bug-eyed" comes from!

Bug-eyed Cicada (39K)

Cicada06 (49K)

Here come the wings.

Cicada with tiny wings (41K)

He leans back. (We need a limbo bar here.)

Cicada limbo (60K)

The wings come out a bit more. Tiny, aren't they? Not for long!

Cicada09 (44K)

What's holding him in the shell?

Cicada and wings (45K)

Cicada11 (65K)

With a little cicada sit-up he leans forward...

Cicada sit-up (65K)

...and grabs the shell. Notice the wings beginning to unfurl.

Cicada13 (66K)

He's pumping fluid into those wings to expand them. His abdomen is growing too.

Cicada wings expanding (52K)

The wings get bigger...

Cicada bigger wings (48K)

...and bigger.

Cicada even bigger (51K)

And now they're starting to look like something he can fly with.

Cicada17 (48K)

Cicada18 (45K)

He folds them to his side and hangs for a long time by just two legs.
Is this necessary to give him room for his abdomen to expand?

Cicada wings folded (46K)

Cicada hanging (53K)

And now we see that he's a boy. A female cicada has an ovipositor on her abdomen.
An ovipositor is a long, thin, needle-like appendage that she uses to lays eggs in tree bark.
This cicada doesn't have one, so he's a male.

Cicada abdomen (42K)

The wings are expanded and folded, the abdomen is bigger, and notice that his color is darkening.
He'll be harder for a hungry bird to spot up in the treetops.

Cicada darkening (46K)

He climbs over the shell...

Cicada over the shell (57K)

...up the post...

Cicada up the post (55K)

Cicada still climbing (60K)

Cicada26 (58K)

...stops to be admired by Emma...

Cicada27 (46K)

...and now he's gone.

Cicada28 (56K)

He leaves behind his shell and now is somewhere in the top of a tree, screaming for a girlfriend!

© 2005 Doug Allison. All rights reserved. For noncommercial use of these images, please link to this page.
For commercial use of these images, please call (770)934-1209.

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ab8 (1K)