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17 year cicada (brood II imago)

Magicicada septendecim


Periodical cicadas such as this one are found in Eastern North America only. They remain buried in the soil for about seventeen years, until they mature and emerge when the soil warms.


Last night, I was out for an hour watching cicadas latch onto trees and molt. I attempted to collect and exoskeleton but lost it in the dark. As I was doing this, I repeatedly felt a crawling sensation on my shoulder and in my hair. I thought there might be an insect there and felt for one, but didn't find anything. I went home, hung up my coat and called it a night. In the morning, I looked out the window, disappointed, and didn't see any exoskeletons outside but grabbed my coat to search anyway. As I dug out my coat from the closet, I was startled by a papery whoosh. I was amazed to see a perfect exoskeleton attached to the front of my coat, properly placed like a brooch; that still didn't explain the whoosh! I was stunned to see an imago (mature insect) on the floor. Unknown to me, it completed the molting process in my house, overnight! I released it outside shortly after and snapped these photos.

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mauna Kunzah
mauna Kunzah 10 years ago

Thank you, Yasser! I predict that the cicada brooch will be the next big trend. ;)

Yasser 10 years ago

Love this story and really excited to see these periodicals emerge. I kind of want a cicada exoskeleton brooch too :) Thanks for sharing and hope to see more!

mauna Kunzah
mauna Kunzah 10 years ago

Yes, J, they certainly are! I'm sure you'll be in luck. Thanks so much. Also, you might find my other spotting of a different cicada interesting:

Jacob Gorneau
Jacob Gorneau 10 years ago

They are in New York already?? I must go searching now! Terrific series, and thank you for posting!

mauna Kunzah
mauna Kunzah 10 years ago

Thanks, Dan. Haha, that would make sense. :) In all seriousness though, I read that the cicada's eyes take some time to adjust to light after being underground for almost its whole life.

Dan Doucette
Dan Doucette 10 years ago

Great spot and story Kunzah! It's eyes are probably so red because it hasn't seen the sun in 17 years!

mauna Kunzah
mauna Kunzah 10 years ago

Thanks, Lauren, I'm glad you thought it was cool like I did. :)

Thanks, Burnuhwill (I hope that's not sarcastic, haha!).

Burnuhwill 10 years ago

cool story Mauna.

LaurenZarate 10 years ago

The periodical cicada is fascinating and I am glad to see one. Thanks.

mauna Kunzah
Spotted by
mauna Kunzah

NYC, New York, USA

Spotted on May 21, 2013
Submitted on May 23, 2013

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