Cicada Hunt!

Things You Can Do

From this page, find out how we:


Hunt Cicadas

Here's what we've learned about hunting live 
cicada nymphs:


  • In the Chicago area, we have found annual cicada nymphs as early as late June and as late as early September.  (Go to this page if you want more information.)
  • We usually see the first nymphs crawling on the ground as the sun is setting.  They seem to be much less common a few hours after sunset.
  • We have lots of large trees in our neighborhood.  If you have no trees, you might not find as many cicada nymphs.  (But we're not sure about this -- let us know if your neighborhood has cicadas but no trees.)
  • The nymphs are easier to see if we look on sidewalks or areas of bare soil.
  • We catch nymphs while they are still walking on the ground -- before they climb and start to shed their skins.  We don't move them once they start to shed.  (If we touch them, we're very, very gentle, and only touch them once or twice.)

Of course, it's also fun to hunt for the shed skins of cicada nymphs.  


Keep Live Cicadas

Here's what we've learned about keeping live 
cicada nymphs -- and helping them turn into
healthy adults:

  • We put the nymphs in a large jar (a gallon at least) or a large box.  We put only one or two in each jar -- if there are more, they sometimes push each other off the sticks!
  • We cover the bottom with smooth dirt and put in a few thick sticks.  If the jar is too crowded, the cicadas' inflating wings will brush against things and be bent or deformed.
  • We don't move the cicadas while they are shedding their skins.  
  • If we touch them, we are very, very gentle, and only touch them once or twice.
  • We set them free the next day!



Collect Dead Cicadas

Five-year-old Ethan is the "dead bug" collector 
in our family.  He only collects insects that are
already dead, or ones that died in his cages.

Daddy also collected bugs when he was a teenager.  
He learned that insect collecting is both an art and 
a science.  We've got lots of books that show how to 
collect bugs, and we find similar books at our local 
library.  We also have a list of insect collecting 

Many techniques used by older collectors are too
hard -- or even too dangerous -- for younger
collectors, like Ethan.  So we've been figuring out
simpler and safer ways to keep dead bugs.  We
change our ways of doing things as Ethan grows: 

Age 3:  No dead bugs allowed
When he was three, Ethan collected everything but dead bugs.  The only insects in his collection were shed cicada skins (because they weren't really dead).  He dumped all his collections in a big cardboard box, which he called his "collection collect."
Age 4:  Dead bugs in a box
Ethan started collecting dead bugs when he was four.  He quickly learned that dried-up bugs got smashed by his rocks and sticks.  He put his bug collection in a shoe box, and his other collections in different boxes and cans.
Age 5:  Padded jewelry boxes
By age five Ethan had huge collections of all things natural.  Daddy bought a bunch of cardboard jewelry boxes with cotton linings, which were perfect for insects and other delicate specimens. 
Age 6:  Jewelry boxes with clear plastic covers
These boxes look almost like the glass-covered Riker mounts used by older collectors of insects.  (See how we store Ethan's other collections.)

Daddy has warned Ethan that his collections
may be attacked by dermestid beetles or
ants.  Ethan says he can't wait for that to 
happen -- he still likes live bugs much more 
than dead ones!  (Older collectors use tightly 
sealed wooden boxes and smelly chemicals 
to protect their dead bugs.)

This summer we will be experimenting with
techniques used by older collectors, like 
insect pins and spreading boards.  We'll let 
you know what happens!


Solve Cicada Puzzles

     Cicada Word Searches

Ethan loves word searches!  These searches use 
words from this Website.  There are hints and 
solution pages for each puzzle.  Ethan is just learning
how to read, so we made easy, medium, and hard 

   Easiest (uses only one word, "cicada")
   Easy (10 search words, but no diagonals and no backwards)
   Medium (10 search words, with some diagonals, but no backwards)
   Harder (more and harder words, with both diagonals and backwards)

   Make your own word searches!

     Picture Jumbles

Cut out a jumble of pictures and then arrange them 
in the right order.  Which happened first?  Which 
happened last? 

   Cicada Hunt! Jumble shows pictures of Ethan
   and Aaron hunting cicada nymphs at night and
   then releasing adults the next day.   You may
   have seen these pictures on the "Cicada Hunt!"
   story pages.  This jumble is pretty easy, with five
   pictures.  It's linked to a solution page that shows
   the pictures in the correct order.

   The Cicada Jumbles show pictures of a cicada
   shedding its skin.  You may have seen these
   pictures on the "During the Night" page of the 
   Cicada Hunt! story.  We include easy and hard 
   versions of this jumble -- and solution pages, too!

      The Easy Cicada Jumble has 5 pictures.

      The Hard Cicada Jumble has 11 pictures.


Make Cicada Crafts

This Website has directions for making an Origami cicada!
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Copyright 2000-2004 Eric D. Gyllenhaal                  Table of Contents              Search this Site

Cicada Hunt! is part of the Salt the Sandbox Web. 
For more information visit the Salt the Sandbox home page.

This page was created on February 18, 2001, and it was last updated on April 2, 2004.