Richmond, Virginia

Richmond, Virginia is a city filled with historic locations and interesting places to visit. I am going to visit fun and exciting places in Richmond and all around so that you can too!

Cicadas, The Ugly Insect That Sheds

When I was a young girl, I played outside all the time. Although somewhat prissy, I did enjoy tomboy type activities like playing catch, race on my bicycle, play in the dirt and play with bugs. Catching all types of bugs in a jar with grass or leaves was one of my favorite things to do.

There was one insect, however, that I did not play with while it was alive.

Cicadas, The Ugly Insect That Sheds

A live cicada is a scary looking insect because it makes a loud noise, flies fast and erratically, can bite and is large. Cicadas do something that I have always found fascinating.

Cicadas molt.

animated cicada molting gif

Whenever a butterflies goes from being a worm to a butterfly, it is a beautiful thing. Cicadas are not beautiful to me.

Since my grandparents lived in the country, back in the woods of North Carolina, there were lots of trees everywhere. When cicadas molt, they usually attach to the trunk or branch of a tree. When they have shed their skin, they fly off and leave the skin behind.

There were lots and lots of molting cicadas around my grandparent’s yard.

Cicadas, The Ugly Insect That Sheds - split in skin where they exit it

The adult insect is known as an imago and in most species is 0.79 to 1.97 inches long. Cicadas eyes bug out and are very wide apart on the sides of their head. On the top of their head, the cicada has three smaller eyes that match their two large eyes. In between or in front of the cicada’s eyes, there is a pair of short antennae. This insect also has front wings.

Cicadas, The Ugly Insect That Sheds - antenna

Most of a cicada’s life is spent living underground. When it is time for them to molt, they dig a tunnel and crawl out of the ground. Then they find a tree trunk or branch, shed their skin and leave it behind while they fly off.

The skin that they leave behind is scary looking too, but I used to collect them off the tree trunks and attach them to my shirt. Then I would run around playing with up to twenty empty cicada skins hanging on me. Yes, prissy me did that very tomboyish thing.

Well, the other weekend when I went to visit my Aunt Barbara and Uncle Billy, I found a cicada skin! I haven’t seen one in so many years, so I was quite excited. When I got home, I put it in a small box I made out of a sheet of copy paper and placed it in my daughter’s bathroom next to the sink. When Alyssa found it, she was a bit freaked out, but it gave me the opportunity to share a bit of my childhood with her.

That was a couple weeks ago.

I still have the molted skin.

I just can’t bear to throw it away yet.

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