Tag Archives: cicada

My top three-Numero Uno!

5 Sep

So, here is my number one favourite insect ever.  This one won’t come as a shock to anyone that knows me, or maybe to those that follow this blog closely.  Any guesses? Well, I won’t keep you in suspense.

Of course, it’s my beloved cicadas.

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I was lucky enough to see lots of these while living in Byfield and even luckier to hold quite a few.  It never got boring to me.  They’re just so big and beautiful and if you get the right one, they don’t mind being held.  Occasionally, I would find a disoriented one stuck in the outdoor sink or inside a bucket and when I rescued them, they’d try to stick their ‘beak’ into my hand.  The beak is actually called the ‘labium’ and is composed of four needle-like structures called stylets.  It’s these stylets they stick into plants and, like a straw, suck up the sap.  It sort of hurts but I was never offended.  I just assumed they were hungry and confused.  I’m sure most people would assume from this that cicadas bite but they’re not a very aggressive sort.  And I can tell you that the only time it ever happened was with the ones who had been trapped and seemed disoriented (i.e. falling over, not attaching to my hand well.)

As you know from a past Reader’s Photo’s post, I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing one come out of the exoskeleton, but I have seen hundreds of the shells scattered on the ground or stuck to the sides of trees.  The chicken coop seemed to be a favourite shedding spot in Byfield.  Remember sticking them on your clothes when you were little?  Here’s Charlie enjoying the tradition.

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If you’d like to read more about cicadas, you can check out THIS post I did.  But in the meantime, check out how brave my kids are holding these cicadas.  Make you feel like a big ‘ole chicken, don’t they?

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And now, here’s me holding one while doing a cool “sunburst behind the shoulder” shot.  Otherwise known as the “hide the wrinkles” shot.

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The only thing to fear is what we’re taught.

21 Jul

I know that the way I am with bugs, insects, birds, spiders etc. etc., is not the norm.  I knew it the first time I posted a picture on Facebook of a large Huntsman spider, thinking how big, beautiful and cool it was, only to be slammed by comment after comment along the lines of, “ick”, “yuck” or “creepy”.

Anyway, I truly believe that our fears, for the most part, are taught to us.  If we see our mother scream and jump onto a chair at the sight of a tiny mouse, we will probably end up feeling the same way.  Although I blame Stephen King for my irrational fear of clowns.  (see ‘It’)

And since I am a real nerd when it comes to all things nature, my two daughters are just as eager to explore as I am.  So, for this post, I thought I would share a few pictures of my little ones being braver than most adults I know.  Sometimes they held things voluntarily (the blonde one once picked up a wasp on her own-now we agree we check with Mom first) and sometimes it takes a little push.  But, as you can see, they always end up doing it.

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Charlie pretending to eat the grasshopper.

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My Favourite Snapshots

11 May

 

So, I thought since I was asking you guys to submit a few snaps for the photo contest, I would post some of my favourite shots that I’ve been able (see lucky) enough to get.

Which ones do you like?

Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis

Mottled Katydid

Mottled Katydid

Christmas Beetle

Christmas Beetle

Sunbird

Sunbird

St. Andrew's Cross Spider

St. Andrew’s Cross Spider

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

Double Drummer Cicada

Clanger Cicada

Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis

Owlfly

Owlfly

Dainty Tree Frog

Dainty Tree Frog

 

Mystery Bug

Mystery Bug

So, this last photo is a bug I haven’t figured out yet.  Funny story behind it.

I saved it from the pool, it seemed lifeless.  I laid it on a shirt in the office overnight figuring if it ‘came back to life’ at least it would be in the office and not escape.  The next morning it was off the shirt, I located it then took it out to the front porch where I got some pictures.  Later that night it was still hanging out on the front porch and I went to pick it up…it flew down and landed right in front of Hunter, my giant green tree frog who promptly ate it.

R.I.P. Mystery Bug

Don’t forget about the photo contest.  For rules/submission guidelines —>http://wannabeentomologist.com/2013/05/07/photo-contest/

The Cicada-A Gentle Giant

9 Jan

I want to preface this first post by explaining a few things about this blog.  I started this blog because I LOVE bugs.  I love all creatures really; furry, winged, creepy-crawly…

And every time I find a new one, I get online and research it until I find out what it is or I answer whatever question I have about it.  I don’t want this blog to be a place where people come and get confused.  There are A LOT of web pages out there that do that.  I’m not an Entomologist, I’m not a scientist, I’m just a person with an insatiable thirst for knowledge about these things.  You could say I’m obsessed.

So, I won’t be listing all the scientific names, the classes, the sub-classes, etc.  I will tell you what it’s called it lay terms and possibly the family of bugs it comes from (i.e. grasshopper, beetle etc.) and try to keep things as simple and interesting as possible.

So, let’s get started on our first one!

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Now, I’m showing favoritism here by having the cicada first.  I absolutely love this bug.  When it comes to bugs, the bigger, the better for me.  And when I held my first cicada (that I saved from near death in a pool, by the way) I was hooked on this guy.  But, I know their sheer size can be intimidating for a lot of people.  I hope by the end of this post you will see how amazing and harmless they really are.

There is a TON of confusion when it comes to this particular bug.  First of all, it’s NOT a locust.  I’m sure to a true Entomologist, having someone say, “Locust, cicada, whatever…” is laughable.  But I found out quickly that it is, across the board, the first thing people think of when I posted the pictures.

So, let me explain.

A locust is actually a grasshopper.  More specifically, a long-horned grasshopper or a grasshopper with long thread like antennae.  The cicada is related to the aphid (that’s as technical as I’ll get) which is a class of bug that feeds by sucking sap from plants, whereas grasshoppers have mandibles that they use to bite their food into smaller pieces that they then move to their mouth.

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Cicadas come in two varieties; the annual that breed and hatch once per year and the periodical, which have a 13 or a 17 year life cycle.  There are three species of the 13-year cicadas and three species of the 17-year cicadas, all of which have a unique size, colour and song.  Some of the common, and clever names given to them are Green Grocer, Yellow Monday, Chocolate Soldier, Double Drummer, Blue Moon and Masked Devil. These are just some of the names for the Australian cicadas.  There are many more and a whole slew of names for cicadas in other parts of the world with a grand total of 2000 different species in all.

Fun Fact: The Australian Green Grocer is among one of the loudest insects in the world reaching close to 120dB! 

The confusion between the periodical cicadas, specifically, and the locusts come from the story in the Bible regarding the locust plagues in Egypt and Palestine.  So when the cicadas first made their appearance, the misnomer stuck and has ‘plagued’ them to this day.

The periodical cicadas, after their 13 or 17 years underground as nymphs feeding on tree sap, begin their voyage upward until they are about one inch deep and await the perfect time to emerge.  As of yet, I have not been able to find any information on what it is that causes literally millions of these creatures to emerge together.  But when the time comes, they emerge, make their way up tree trunks, weeds, or any upright object they can attach to (our chicken coop as I found out) and they molt their “skin” which is actually an exoskeleton.  These are the little shells you find everywhere and the ones we used to hang on our shirts as kids.

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You can see a great video of a molting here —-> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=go4MqVq9HVM

After molting, the only thing on their minds is mating.  The males sing their song to attract an eager female and mating takes place.  Then the females lay their eggs by using a small saw-like device at the end of the abdomen to slit open live twigs, make pockets where they will deposit anywhere from 24-28 eggs in each slit for a grand total of around 400 to 600 eggs in all.  In about 6-7 weeks, the nymphs emerge, drop to the ground, burrow in the dirt and the whole process begins again.

I was sad to find out that the periodical cicada, once it has emerged, only lives about three to four weeks.  But what an amazing creature to hold in your hand and just think of where you were when this magnificent bug began its life cycle.

I hope I’ve answered some questions and given you a new appreciation for the amazing cicada!  And if you are still too scared to hold one, just remember the picture of my 5-year old holding one…and smiling.

Charlie holding a cicada.

Charlie holding a cicada.