One of the most fun periodical cicada experiences is watching thousands of nymphs emerge from the ground at night, and crawl to the nearest vertical surface (hopefully a tree) and begin to molt.
This is a video by Roy Troutman from 2007 of the Brood XIII emergence, specifically in Ryerson Woods in Illinois:
Observing magicicada emergence at Ryerson Woods from Roy Troutman on Vimeo.
Here’s a time-lapse video, also by Roy, of a cicada nymph molting:
Magicicada nymph molting from Roy Troutman on Vimeo.
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Roy Troutman has been a cicada fan since he was a kid. Here’s some of his cicada photos from the 1980s:
1980: Neotibicen nymph.
1981. Tibicen exuvia (skins).
1982. Roy and a Neotibicen.
1983. Immature Magicicadas.
1983. Immature Magicicada.
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Continuing from part 1, Elias Bonaros did some digging and took these photos of first and second instar Magicicada periodical cicadas on a warm winter day (March 21, 2010).
Now you know what cicadas look like when they’re underground!
Generally speaking the ones with the bulbous abdomens are second instar, and the smaller ones with the less bulbous or not bulbous abdomens are first instar.
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Have you every wondered what cicadas look like when they’re underground? Elias Bonaros did some digging and took these photos of first and second instar Magicicada periodical cicadas on a warm winter day (March 21, 2010). Magicicadas have 5 instars, or phases of development. Each phase has a slightly different appearance.
This is a probable second instar nymph of Magicicada septendecim (Periodical cicada) from the 2008 Brood XIV emergence. Dug up from beneath an oak tree. It was living approximately 4-6 inches from the ground surface. Temperature 70 degrees.
These are probable first and second instar nymphs of Magicicada septendecim (Periodical cicada) from the 2008 Brood XIV emergence. Dug up from beneath an oak tree. They were living approximately 4-6 inches from the ground surface. Temperature 70 deg.
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Cicada eggs and first instar nymph photos by Roy Troutman:
First instar cicada nymphs:
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It’s been about six weeks since the emergence of Brood VIII in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Oklahoma. Now (first week of August) is a good a time as any to check for periodical cicada nymphs that have hatched from eggs laid in branches. Once they hatch they’ll find their way to the ground, where they’ll find and begin feeding on roots for the next 17 years.
Look on branches where cicada laid their eggs.
An illustraition of egg nests:
A nymph on a branch with adult male finger for comparison:
Another close up:
The Simon Lab is dedicated to the study of cicadas, in particular, periodical cicadas.
One of the things they study is the development of cicada nymphs while they are underground.
They need your help to collect cicada nymph specimens. You would dig for them, and if you find them, mail them to the Simon Lab. The nymphs will be used for valuable scientific study, so the loss of a few from your yard will not be in vain.
If you are interested in participating in cicada nymph research, visit The Simon Lab Nymph Tracking Project page for more information. You must have had periodical cicadas on your property in past 13 or 17 years to find the nymphs — not including the Brood II area, since those nymphs came out of the ground this year.
Apparently cicadas serenaded the dinosaurs! Entomologist and Mount St. Joseph professor Gene Kritsky shared the news today that cicadas lived as long as 110 million years ago during the Cretaceous period.
A quote from a press release:
New research has documented that cicadas, those noisy insects that sing during the dog days of summer, have been screaming since the time of the dinosaurs.
A fossil of the oldest definitive cicada to be discovered was described by George Poinar, Jr., Ph.D., professor of zoology at Oregon State University and Gene Kritsky, Ph.D., professor of biology, at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati. The cicada, measuring 1.26 mm in length, was named Burmacicada protera.
Read the full Press Release on the MSJ website.
Here is a photo of the ancient Burmacicada protera cicada nymph trapped in amber. Photo credit: George Poinar, Jr., Ph.D.
It looks a lot like a modern-day first-instar cicada nymph:
Photo by Roy Troutman.
Update: Here’s a video news story about Gene’s fossil find.
I need a step-up my fossil collecting hobby. It looks like there’s some places in New Jersey to find fossils. Maybe I’ll find a cicada.
Elias went digging for Magicicada nymphs on 3/21. Here’s a gallery of the nymphs he found.
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Here’s a photo of first instar Magicicada nymphs by Roy Troutman:
Here is video of a 1st instar magicicada nymph crawling around taken just minutes after it crawled from its egg sack:
1st instar magicicada nymph from Roy Troutman on Vimeo.
1st instar magicicada nymph in slow motion by Roy:
1st instar magicicada nymph in slow motion from Roy Troutman on Vimeo.