For example, these light-colored objects on the dark bark of a mesquite caught my eye and I had to run home and grab my camera.
Do you recognize it?
Here, look closer.
It’s the exoskeleton shed by a cicada turning from a nymph into an adult. Can you see the covering where the eyes were? How about the large front legs used for digging?
The bulbous area in front of the eyes is the covering for the part of the mouth that pumps fluids from plants. The flap-like structure on the side of the body is the wing bud that develops into the wing of the adult.
Have you ever found a cicada nymph exoskeleton? Where did you find it? Did you look at it closely?
A few weeks ago in Summer Sounds 1, we saw the adult cicada.
If you have cicadas around, you may have found some of these.
It is the dried “skin” or exoskeleton of the cicada nymph. Cicada nymphs spend a year or more underground feeding on tree roots. When they are ready to emerge as adults, they dig out of the ground, crawl up onto a tree or the side of a building, and shed their exoskeleton for the last time.
A few days ago we dug up something really cool in the garden.
What is this weird grub? It is a live cicada nymph! Check out the white eyes. They were eerie.
It was really clumsy and kept rolling onto its back.
On its back, it was easier to see the large front legs used for digging, with dark claws. In between the front legs is the tube mouth the cicada uses to suck on tree roots.
You can see those things in the shed exoskeleton as well.
Note: if you have one of shells, examine it closely. In the back where the skin has split you can often see tiny white threads. Those are the reminants of the cicadas breathing tubes, called trachae.
After a few photos, the cicada nymph went back into the soil. Hopefully, it will be singing in the trees someday soon.