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Cicada Hunt!

The More the Boys Looked, 
the More They Found

     

On most August mornings, Ethan and Aaron
found lots of adult cicadas.  Many adults were 
dark-colored, but some were so pale that they 
looked as if they had just finished shedding
their skins.  (A few pale cicadas still had tiny
wings).
The pale cicadas 
were easy to spot 
on the dark tree bark.  Birds might eat them
before their wings 
were stiff enough to 
fly away.  (Maybe 
that's why most 
nymphs shed their 
skins early in the
evening.)

         


The boys also found some adult 
cicadas with bent or folded wings.  
Their wings might have pressed 
against something as they inflated.

Some of these adults couldn't even fly.
We put them in the bushes, so they 
would be safe from birds.

      

Shedding must have been really hard 
and even dangerous work!  Ethan and Aaron sometimes found cicadas that 
died before they could escape from 
their old skins.

   

Ethan found two adult cicadas mating.  
He held them for awhile and showed them 
to his friends.  Then he set them free.

       

Our books said that cicada nymphs 
spend years living underground.  We 
had been wondering what the nymphs 
looked like during these burrowing 
years.

Then, one day, men came to tear up 
our street.

We got a peek at cicadas' underground
lives when the shovel cut through their
deep tunnels.  Some nymphs tumbled 
out of their tunnels into the newly dug 
trench.
The larger nymphs had pale backs and 
bright red eyes.  We kept them in jars of 
dirt, but they died without shedding their
skins.  (Read about the "Mystery of the
Red-eyed Nymphs."
)
We wondered why one smaller nymph was
almost white.  (Read about the "Mystery of
the White Nymph."
)

  

      

In early August, Ethan found two huge
wasps, more than an inch long.  (They
were dead, so they didn't sting him.)

They looked like pictures of cicada killer 
wasps in our Peterson Field Guide to 
Insects
.  

Our books said that cicada killers capture
adult cicadas and paralyze them with their
stings.  Then they drag the bodies into 
deep burrows and lay their eggs on them.
When  the eggs hatch, the baby wasps eat
the  cicadas' bodies. 

We went looking for cicada 
killer wasps burrows.  Read 
about it in  the "Mystery of the Cicada Killer Burrows."

   

NEXT:  Try to solve cicada mysteries


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Copyright 2000 Eric D. Gyllenhaal                        Table of Contents                 Search this Site
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This page was created on August 26, 2000, and it was last updated on July 27, 2002.