Cicada Exuviae

shed cuticle of a cicada

Cicadas spend most of their life as nymphs underground. Some Australian species may live as nymphs for up to 7 years while the periodical cicadas of North America can spend up to 17 years underground.

When the nymph reaches its full size, it digs its way to the surface using its front legs which are specially adapted for digging. The nymph usually emerges from the soil at night and climbs to a tree trunk or other suitable object and clings to it while it undergoes the moulting process. When the adult cicada emerges, the old cuticle or exuviae, remains, often staying attached to the tree/object for many months after the cicada has abandoned it.

Photo © 1998-2003 Troy Bartlett