Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cicada - Tibicen superbus

As we've talked about creating another bird/butterfly garden around our "bird feeding" tree - my DS and I began trying to dig some of the grass up around the tree. The dirt is EXTREMELY hard so we were just sitting there contemplating having my husband build us up a flower bed there when we began digging these brown insects up.

We've been finding the exoskeletons all around the tree
Then when Chance and I were attempting to dig the ground this day - we found several live insects that we believed to be cicada nymphs. We were finding them in tunnels such as this:
I'm not terribly familar with them but as we didn't want to cause them harm by destroying their tunnels (we'd found 4-5 in the ground at this point) we decided to leave them alone and work on doing some type of container garden at that point around this tree until my husband could build us up a flower bed.
Cicada Nymph

Today I was quite surprised to find a molted cicada while planting my hydrangea out by this tree. I couldn't wait to show the kids.

My son went outside and gently lifted him with a stick and put him in his bug jar for us to observe. He was quite still and calm. I looked up what I could find on the internet to try to identify him. I found what we believe to be his species on You can click on the above link above to see the page with his picture.

It appears that he is a "Tibicen superbus"

We then watched a video on You Tube of a cicada molting. You can find it here:

The kids were amazed and I have to admit so was I. I think he could easily be compared to the "Incredible Hulk". From what we read, we believe this cicada had very recently molted so we were extra careful. The children viewed him with a magnifying glass. He was suprisingly beautiful. He had so much gold color - dusty gold color as if he had been guilded. My DS commented on just how beautiful his wings were.

Chance Briana Alyssa

There wasn't anything in the HNS about cicadas but there was some information on molting.
Handbook of Nature Study- pp 295 & 296
information on molting insects-
"All in- sects have their skeletons on the outside of the body; that is, the outer covering of the body is chitinous, and the soft and inner parts are attached to it and sup- ported by it. This skin is so firm that it can- not stretch to accommodate the increas- ing size of the growing insect, so from time to time it is shed. But before this is done, a new skin is formed beneath the old one. After the old skin bursts open and the insect crawls forth, the new skin is sufficiently soft and elastic to allow for 296 ANIMALS the increase in the size of the insect. Soon the new skin becomes hardened like the old one ? and after a time is shed. This shedding of the skin is called molting."

They created some nature journal pages about the cicada before we released him back outside to our tree.
Alyssa's Nature Journal Page

Chance's Nature Journal Page Briana's Nature Journal

1 comment:

Melissal89 said...

Cicadas our my son's favorite insect! We just recently found an exoskeleton in our backyard by some trees. We brought it in to display on our nature table.

Thanks for sharing about your studies.

Blessings, Melissa