Thursday, August 18, 2011

Freshly Shelled Cicada

In my last entry I mentioned how cicadas crawl up out of the ground, shed their skins, let their wings dry, then fly away.

Some spend years underground sucking fluids from tree roots and such before they work up the energy to emerge. I'm told that after they emerge, they never eat again. After attracting a mate with their singing, they die.

Well, the females make the time to lay their eggs first, but you'll probably never know the difference unless they happen to lay those eggs in your coffee, you unsuspectingly drink them in with your coffee, they hatch in your stomach, grow big and strong off your fluids, then crawl out one of your orifices, perch on your head, and start attracting mates to your hair with their singing.

If that happens, let me know. I'm always looking for a good reason to smile.

What I really want to focus on now, though, is that part about them shedding their skins.

Those skins that get left behind are quite the sight. Apparently the typical cicada manages to emerge from a tiny slit that leaves the skin virtually unscathed. These skins can often be found firmly gripping a surface a yard or two above the hole in the ground that the cicada crawled up out of. They can easily be mistaken for whole insects themselves even though they're paper thin and hollow.

I first discovered this in a friend's yard near Lima (Ohio) some 25 or more years ago when I found an irregular line of three or four of these skin shells on the trunk of a small tree. I've since discovered a few more of these shells on one of my own trees. I think I even carefully detached one of them from the bark and saved it for awhile but it's not exactly the sort of thing dinner guests find endearing, so I think I ended up dropping it in a Goodwill donation box.

On July 31, 2009 I was lucky enough to spot a cicada to the side of my garage door just a few minutes after it had emerged from its shell.

Here's what I saw:

Cool, huh?

Or gross.

Or maybe both....

If you're ever in the neighborhood and are tempted to knock on my door, please look first and make sure you're not about to knock on a cicada emerging from its shell, ok?



  1. That's the funniest thing you ever said without mocking superstition.

    The captcha says "reers". Really. The captcha reers its ugly head and slides out of its skin.

  2. Speaking of mocking, it's hard to make up something funny about people who are funnier without trying than you could ever imagine.
    Juicy this?

  3. Hey, I thought this was the diary of OD Refugee, not ODD Ridley Scott! But nevermind, I still recall their chorus following me everywhere back east.... (yes, that's another thing, along with fireflies and rattlesnakes, that we Westerners have had to learn to live without....)