09 February 2009

Cicada 101

As a parent, you get asked many questions, and are expected to know absolutely EVERYTHING.

Do you really know where the strange cicada shell things stuck to trees come from? What are those big holes in the ground next to the trees? Did you grow up as a kid sticking them to your top?

Well, here are some quick facts to help you look REALLY CLEVER when you next get asked those random questions from kids (thanks to wiki). I was quite surprised to learn some of this myself!

After mating, the female cuts slits into the bark of a twig, and into these she deposits her eggs. She may do so repeatedly, until she has laid several hundred eggs. When the eggs hatch, the newborn nymphs drop to the ground, where they burrow.

Most cicadas go through a life cycle that lasts from two to five years. Cicadas live underground as nymphs for most of their lives, at depths ranging from about 1 ft up to about 8½ ft (wow). The nymphs feed on root juice and have strong front legs for digging.

In the final nymphal instar, they construct an exit tunnel to the surface and emerge. They then molt (shed their skins), on a nearby plant for the last time and emerge as adults. The abandoned skins remain, still clinging to the bark of trees.

So there we have it! Check out this really cool animated gif showing the process of the cicada molting here.


5 comments:

  1. awesome!! I used to collect them when I was little... and then disgrade them (usually a few mintues later) once I'd lost interest!

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  2. that's interesting trivia. :) I've had the girls ask me about them in the past and I've kinda made up something about them shedding their skins. Not entirely correct, but close.

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  3. Has Symon been logging in and posting as you again? He wasn't so obvious when he did that one post about absolutely loving paisley.

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  4. 8.5 ft man thats huge considering their size what amazing little insects.

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  5. great post k! tehe its not that i don't like your other ones.... just this is a teeny tiny bit more interesting :)

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