Skin Flick

Skin photo, more like. Old and new skin together, highlighted in early morning sun as he/she emerged into the adult form during the last molt of life.   I found this cicada and its former skin hanging on an expanse of Cast Iron foliage as I finished some necessary pruning of summer wayward perennials.

Opalescence of blue and green, I was astounded at the beauty of this common, often disparaged insect.  Growing up in Texas, the buzz of the cicadae are a fixed, noisy part of the fabric of my life.  Ubiquitous and incessant in late summer, I don’t always notice the cicadae’s mating songs, but the songs are there.  Always. Loud and desperate for love, or sex, anyway. They never SHUT UP about it!

In a post last month by Deb at austin agrodolce, she wrote about finding a cicada in much the same way I did–going about her gardening business and happening along to witness the drama a cicada’s molting for a mate.  Like Deb, I knew it was a cicada, but it turns out these insects are particularly hard to identify to exact species.  I’ve been using an excellent site to identify the various insects found in my gardens and I turned to this site for my cicada’s confirmation: Austin Bug Collection.   I’m reasonably sure that the cicada is a Tibicen species and I’ll posit that the wearer of The Blue and The Green is a Tibicen resh.

But I could be wrong.

Earlier that same morning, I was freshening my dog’s outdoor water bowl and spied an odd thing floating in the water.  I fished it out and it was the exoskeleton of the front section with connected eyes of a cicada.  Yuck.  And cool.  I guess someone found a vulnerable cicada, mid-molt, munched it and then washed down the delightful snack with a slurp of water, leaving the morsel of head adrift.

My morning for cicada discoveries.

I checked later and Mr./ Ms. Cicada in the Cast Iron was gone.

Gone to participate in the cacophony of summer’s din.  Gone to find the one true love. Gone to make more cicadae.

Gone to continue the racket for appreciative and unappreciative listeners.

7 thoughts on “Skin Flick

  1. So cute and you were so lucky to capture this moment!! I love the sound of cicadas … at least when they make that lazy afternoon sound where it seems like the trees are making a rattling sound to eack other. At least I think those are cicadas. When I first moved here they were new to me and I asked a lot of locals. Most had no idea what sound I was refering to but someone said that it was a cicada. So relaxing … always makes me soporific.


    • Soporific is a good word to describe the effect on humans that sound makes. Also, it could be the heat. 🙂 I don’t even think of the buzz much–it’s just so in the background of my summer existence. I do like the song, I just wish they would give it a rest occasionally. I felt very fortunate to find that newly molted cicada–I’ve never seen that before and the sun spotlighted it just so–it was beautiful!


      • It really is so beautiful. I think they are amazing and your photos are a real treat. I can see how that sound might just fade into something unnoticeable but for me it seems really mysterious and wonderful.


  2. I was quite tickled at the photos–I’m going to use another one or two for Wildlife Wednesday–just milking it! I think that’s so sweet that you view their song as “mysterious and wonderful”. That’s a good reminder to me to be appreciative of what is here, native and remarkable. Thank you for that!


  3. Great shots! Tina, you and I both have been beneficiaries of paying as much attention to what is going on in and around our plants as the plants themselves lately. I feel grateful to bear witness to dramas large and small taking place in my garden spaces and am more in awe of the chance to simply be outside.


    • Thanks, Deb. You’re spot on when you point out that “paying as much attention to what is going on in and around our plants as the plants themselves” is what we’re both working at and I’d add that practice is enriching my gardening sense. I’ve always gardened toward wildlife, but was a bit too lazy to learn exactly the specifics of wildlife in my gardens. I don’t know that I would have noticed the cicada a year ago–or cared as much. It’s an eye-opener for me. For example, for years there have been dragonflies and damselflies flitting about my gardens. But only recently have I learned just how many different kinds are around–because I’m noting and studying them, rather than just noticing them. You’ve been a real inspiration toward that end for me–someone who loves gardens and blooms, but also truly understands and appreciates those who benefit most, on the front lines, from gardens and blooms.


  4. Pingback: Wildlife Wednesday, September 2014 | My Gardener Says…

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