Exoskeleton of Cicada

November 21, 2019


Photographer: Monikeli Wippel 
Summary Author: Monikeli Wippel 

The photo above shows an abandoned cicada exoskeleton as observed in Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil. Cicadas are insects of the order Hemiptera and the superfamily Cicadoidea. After mating, the female lays her eggs in cracks in the bark of trees and later dies shortly after that. When the eggs hatch, nymphs emerge and fall to the ground, whereupon they bury themselves in the ground and live there for most of their lives. In their final stage, the nymphs, with their already formed exoskeleton, emerge to the surface through a series of tunnels and quickly settle on a nearby tree. Later, they emerge as adults abandoning their exoskeletons, which often clings to the tree trunk or limb where they initially settled. And the life cycle is complete.

Cicadas are known for their shrill singing, among the loudest sounds made by any insect --upwards of 105 decibels. Between spring and summer, the males sing to attract females to mating. Note that cicadas may emerge every year or emerge periodically, surfacing in odd number years. Photo taken on October 23, 2019.