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August 13, 2005

How to find and photograph cicadas at night

Filed under: FAQs — Dan @ 10:55 am

A tisket a tasket cicadas on a basket
Check your trees at night for molting cicadas.

Here are some tips for finding and photographing newly emerged cicadas at night:

  1. Look for cicadas on trees where you’ve heard cicadas during the day, or where you’ve seen cicada nymph exoskeletons.
  2. Cicada nymphs emerge from the ground shortly after dusk. You can start your hunt then.
  3. Carry a flashlight and your camera. As you approach a tree, shine the flashlight on the ground close to the tree. You don’t want to step on any of them!
  4. Scan the tree trunk and all the limbs with your flashlight. Once you spot one, get ready with your camera.
  5. If you don’t spot any cicadas after dusk, try a half hour later, and then a half an hour after that, up until 11 pm.
  6. Non-techie digital camera tips:
    1. Set the camera on auto or portrait (usually a picture of a profile).
    2. Set the focus on Macro (usually a picture of a tulip) or manual.
    3. Experiment with these settings.
  7. Don’t touch the cicadas: for the most natural photos, you don’t want them to be disturbed.

Good luck. I hope they’ll work for you!


  1. Cathy says:

    I would like to know, especially during this year’s cicada population boom, why my sister’s yard is covered in them & we have none 2 miles away? We have lots of oak & elm trees at our house/neighborhood but have yet to see/hear any cicadas & her yard is simply booming with them.

  2. Vince Matson says:

    Do the tibicans emerge all summer long? if thats the case i have a great film camera that makes short work of macro photagtaphy and a flat bed scanner I plan on getting a digital body for my stuff.

    [Moderator: yes they do, but the clock is ticking. You have about 3 weeks.]

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