Random Insect: Sunset cicada molt

cicadasunset

Immature cicada (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) molting into an adult at sunset. Photographed 08/31/2013 near Palmyra, Michigan.

When cicada nymphs (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) hatch they can spend anywhere from two to seventeen years feeding on roots underground. After they’ve sufficiently grown and developed they emerge from the ground, crawl upward, and molt into adults. The adults then crawl even higher into trees where the males serenade the females in an attempt to mate. Their common and well-known songs make them a staple of any summer evening.

cicadasunset2

Immature cicada (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) molting into an adult at sunset. Photographed 08/31/2013 near Palmyra, Michigan.

13- and 17-year periodical cicadas of the genus Magicicada get the most attention because of their long life span and fascinating synchronized emergence. The sheer numbers of individuals that flood the landscape at one time ensure abundant mates and survival in numbers against predators.

cicadasunset3

Immature cicada (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) molting into an adult at sunset. Photographed 08/31/2013 near Palmyra, Michigan.

Far more common, however, are the approximately 160 short-period cicada species. Although referred to as “annual” cicadas, these individuals actually spend two or three years as underground nymphs before emerging as adults. These cicadas don’t have a synchronized emergence but the adults manage to live long enough to find others to mate with. While periodical and annual cicadas have different reproductive strategies, both seem successful in their endeavors.

Advertisements

About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Entomology, Random Insect and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Random Insect: Sunset cicada molt

  1. Mike Powell says:

    Wonderful shot of the cicada molting at sunset. I managed to see some of the 17 year cicadas earlier this year and I can hear a lot of the short-term ones at night now. The cicadas have an amazing life cycle, with so little time spent above ground.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s