Today, August 12, Aaron finally found our family’s first shed cicada skin of 2009!
Of course, this skin is just a dried out, hollow leftover from the complex process of turning a brown nymph into a flying, buzzing, mating, egg-laying Annual Cicada. If you visit our Kids’ Cicada Hunt website, you can see the three-hour sequence of events in a series of photos.
Why haven’t we seen cicada skins before this? It’s partly because we were on vacation in California, but there’s more to it than that. Annual Cicadas just aren’t that common this summer. Usually cicadas sing from late morning through early evening this time of year. This summer we’re lucky to hear a few at sunset, plus one or two during daylight hours. Since many birds have finished nesting and stopped singing, it’s been a silent summer.
We’re not sure why there are so few cicadas this year. Is it the cool weather we had earlier this summer? Some natural cycle in Annual Cicada populations? Effects of disease or pesticide use? We just don’t know, but we’ll look for evidence through the rest of the summer.
You can read more about cicadas on our Kids’ Cicada Hunt website (go here to see it).
Here’s a great new online source for songs of cicadas and other insects: The Songs of Insects. We also have the book, which includes big color photos, range maps, and useful information about each species, plus a CD version of the songs.