Readers’ wildlife photos (and video)

Reader Jonathan Wallace sent some swell cicada photos from France, and included a short video. His notes are indented;

These are Cicada orni, a common cicada from the Mediterranean region. Like other cicadas they spend most of their life cycle underground as nymphs, where they feed on tree roots (several years for this species).

I have included a couple of photograph of ‘teneral’ adults that have just moulted after emerging from the ground (the insects are both placed next to the exuviae or cast off exoskeletons from the moult) a couple of pictures of exuviae and a photograph of an adult whose wings have dried and hardened and assumed their final cryptic colouring.

Dried-off adult:

Teneral cicada with exuvia (next two photos):

Cicada exuvia:

Cicada exuvia (dorsal view):


I have also included a short video clip, shot on my phone, of a male singing. They start singing as soon as the temperature gets high enough (i am not sure what the threshold is), and collectively can achieve an astonishing volume. The sometimes deafening sound of cicadas is the archetypical soundtrack to the Mediterranean summer. These pictures were taken in southern France in the Aude and Bouches du Rhone Departments.

16 Comments

  1. Posted July 23, 2017 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    This takes me back to a French holiday in 2011! Now to see if the picture embeds:

  2. Barry Lyons
    Posted July 23, 2017 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Nice photos. Cicadas are beautiful creatures.

  3. rickflick
    Posted July 23, 2017 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Nicely documented. Lots of great detail. The French cicada is very similar to the North American version except ours are darker and have red instead of green eyes.
    I filmed the emergence of our NY, 17 year cicadas. I think it was in 2013.

    https://vimeo.com/152088007

  4. Diana MacPherson
    Posted July 23, 2017 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    I’ve always wanted to see a cicada hatching. As a kid, I would find the old husks but never see the cicadas.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted July 23, 2017 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      Have seen them half in and half out of the skin on the trees. One thing that Cicadas do for us is to point out who is going deaf. I recall almost not being able to hear others talking because of the noise from the Cidadas and my dad saying, hear what, I don’t hear anything.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted July 23, 2017 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

        They also make me sad because hearing them means we are in the downside of summer here.

        • rickflick
          Posted July 23, 2017 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

          I agree. I’ve always thought of the screech of the cicada as a turn toward winter. I guess, metaphorically, it can remind us of the turn toward the winter of our lives.

          The episode of Calvin and Hobbes.

          http://thecuriousbrain.com/?p=19230

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted July 23, 2017 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

            Haha. Every summer I feel this way. Like I take advantage of it and yes, I’ve wondered if this is the same with my life.

  5. Hempenstein
    Posted July 23, 2017 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    And since this website is also about food, aka “shrimp of the dirt”. Seems that at moult they have a “texture of soft-shell crab, but with subtle overtones of boiled peanuts” I’ve long wanted to try them, and local 17yr anniversary should be up in another few yrs.

  6. barn owl
    Posted July 23, 2017 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Beautiful cicada photos and video!

    For (eastern) USAian cicada aficionados, here’s a website with a number of mp3s of cicada songs.

    http://www.insectsingers.com/100th_meridian_cicadas/

    One of the most impressive is the song of Quesada gigas, which I hear almost every evening when I walk my dogs. Most evenings in the summer I can hear at least 3 or 4 different cicada species singing just in my neighborhood.

  7. rickflick
    Posted July 23, 2017 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Wikipedia:

    “The emergence period of large prime numbers (13 and 17 years) was hypothesized to be a predator avoidance strategy adopted to eliminate the possibility of potential predators receiving periodic population boosts by synchronizing their own generations to divisors of the cicada emergence period. Another viewpoint holds that the prime-numbered developmental times represent an adaptation to prevent hybridization between broods with different cycles during a period of heavy selection pressure.” Some suspect a single gene is responsible.

  8. Mark R.
    Posted July 23, 2017 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Great photos! What a neat insect. I’ve heard them by the hundreds (thousands?) in some areas I’ve lived, but I don’t think they live in western Washington. I live in the sticks, so I think I would have heard them by now.

  9. Posted July 23, 2017 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Very interesting. The song of this one is different in pattern, but much the same in tone to our similar-looking annual cicada.
    As for their skins, I remember collecting them by the dozens as a boy, and having large monster insect battles with them.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 23, 2017 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

      I kept mine in a jar, along with a cicada that had transformed and met its end falling into our chimney or furnace or something.

  10. Susan D.
    Posted July 23, 2017 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    Eeeeeeeeekkkkkkk! It looks like something out of “Alien”!!

    • rickflick
      Posted July 24, 2017 at 4:48 am | Permalink

      I’m sure the Hollywood modelers get a lot of ideas from the natural world.


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