As the scorching summer heat engulfs Arkansas, a symphony of captivating sounds fills the air. Amongst the chorus of nature’s melodious creatures, the unmistakable hum of the Cicadas announces their arrival. These intriguing insects have a unique lifecycle, which presents a fascinating opportunity for a wildlife photographer like myself. On June 26, 2023, I had the pleasure of photographing a Cicada Exuviae, the empty shell left behind after a Cicada undergoes its remarkable transformation. Join me as we delve into the mysterious world of the Cicada Exuviae and the incredible biodiversity that thrives in my own backyard.
The Cicada’s Chorus:
When the temperatures rise, signaling the arrival of summer in Arkansas, the rhythmic songs of Cicadas fill the air. These buzzing serenades are produced exclusively by male Cicadas to attract mates. Their songs are unique to each species, serving as a distinct auditory signal that distinguishes them from other insect species. As a wildlife enthusiast, this natural orchestra presents an opportunity to witness and capture the essence of nature’s symphony through my lens.
The Exuviae Encounter:
Nestled upon the birdhouse in my backyard, a tiny treasure awaited my discovery – a Cicada Exuviae. This delicate and intricate exoskeleton, often referred to as a shell, is left behind after the Cicada nymph undergoes its final molt, emerging as an adult. These exuviae serve as a testament to the awe-inspiring transformation that takes place in the Cicada’s life cycle. As a photographer, I couldn’t resist immortalizing this remarkable moment, knowing that the nearby Tufted Titmouse diligently guarded her precious eggs inside the birdhouse.
Cicada Exuviae: An Extraordinary Artifact:
The Cicada Exuviae, with its papery texture and intricate details, is a true marvel of nature. It is a hollow representation of the nymph’s former self, a tangible reminder of the wonders that lie beneath the earth’s surface. One can observe the delicate, translucent wings, the intricately patterned exoskeleton, and the remnants of the nymph’s segmented body. Each exuviae serves as a testament to the growth and transformation that Cicadas undergo, a natural spectacle worth capturing and sharing.
Insights into the Cicada’s Lifecycle:
Cicadas have one of the most captivating lifecycles among insects. Their journey begins as eggs laid by females in tree branches, where they remain for several weeks before hatching into nymphs. These nymphs then burrow into the soil, where they spend years feeding on plant roots. After a period of growth and development, which can span from two to seventeen years depending on the species, the nymphs emerge from the ground as adults, shedding their exuviae to embark on their final stage of life. The adults engage in a short-lived period of flight, courtship, and reproduction, marking the culmination of their remarkable existence.
As a wildlife photographer, I am constantly fascinated by the rich tapestry of life that surrounds us. The discovery of the Cicada Exuviae in my yard, against the backdrop of the Tufted Titmouse’s nesting endeavors, offered a unique opportunity to capture nature’s intricate details and document the mesmerizing life cycle of these remarkable insects. The exuviae serve as a tangible reminder of the Cicada’s transformation and the countless wonders that await those who venture into the natural world. So, grab your camera, explore your surroundings, and unveil the hidden treasures that nature has to offer.
- Camera: Canon EOS R7
- Lens: Canon RF 100-500 mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM
- Location: Lavaca (Arkansas)
- Date and Time Taken: June 26, 2023 (8:20 A. M.)
- Exposure Mode: Manual
- Aperture: f10
- Shutter speed: 1/800
- ISO: 5000 (Auto)
- Exp. Comp.: +0.3
- Focal Length: 500 mm