Cicada serenade

I always thought the cicada ought to be a cocktail. I’ll have a cicada martini, shaken not stirred. Certainly Mr. Bond.

But of course it isn’t. It’s that noisy little Homoptera chappy that heralds the onset of Spring. I love hearing them, whether it be dawn or dusk. It takes me back to the South of France and the first time I heard such exotic noises. I was a teenager then. Time passes so fast. Now I fall into the category of old fogies who go around saying “don’t the policemen look young!” They fly rather in a rather wobbly fashion. The cicadas that is, not the policemen. And their life is fraught with danger. I walked up the hill behind the house today, camera in hand and recorded some of the stages of the life cycle of the local Spotted Black Cicada, Gaeana maculata.

Typically the first thing I come across is the exuvia, the ‘skin’ shed by the emerging imago. Not to be confused with Iago. As far as I know there are no cicadas in Othello.

This is what it looks like:

I discovered today that alas not all of them make it out. As far as I could tell this one had given up and was frozen, Pompeii like, at least until someone fancies a tasty snack.

Maybe it was just too tight a fit.

The aim is to end up like one of these two:

As you can see the modern cicada doesn’t mind a vertical or a horizontal resting position.

The Sandy Shaw “Puppet on a String” award for poorest navigation of the day goes to this cicada, who presumably launched him or herself on to an unsuspecting world and straight into a spider’s web. Hardly the worth the effort really, was it.

Now one of the pleasures of photographing at the roadside is that people often stop and check my sanity. What on earth are you doing? they ask, with some (justifiable) concern. They are then in the spider’s web themselves as I embark on a deep and detailed explanation of the joys of the natural world around them and how the camera preserves it all for posterity. If they are still a) awake and/or b) present when I finish then I hope they will be sufficiently enthused to have a go themselves. This final picture was opportunistic. I had seen a nice bloom to photograph but it was breezy and I wasn’t sure whether to have a go. I noticed a small beetle crawling around so I thought it was worth an investment of a little time. After I had taken a few shots a couple duly made the mistake of asking what I was up to. The chap thought I must have been waiting, camera poised pointing at that flower for at least 2 hours, to get the shot. His wife was a little less pessimistic. But how on earth, she asked, did I know where to look? I confessed that I had spent nearly two hours just walking a mile up the hill and a mile back down again and during that time I had probably examined most of the roadside bushes, trees and ditches for anything of interest. I had not known in advance that the beetle would be there. It just was. And here it is.

I have no idea what it is but I thank it for its part in entertaining two passing hikers this afternoon. May they be smitten with a desire to explore the world about us.


4 thoughts on “Cicada serenade

  1. Nice posting Andrew – great to capture so much of the life history – and snare the unsuspecting urbanites with your nefarious scheme of turning them into Appreciators!


    • Thanks Mike. It’s nice to have a bit more free time to get out. I’m thinking of selling tickets to the urbanites to view our nesting swallows too.

  2. In checking your ‘sanity’, the passers-by might probably grow an interest in recording what other lives are doing in the nature. The best way to protect our environment is to directly engage people in observing the mysteries in the nature.

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