It’s a Locust’s Life

(First off, before I start today’s story, I’d like to apologize for the technical glitch that published an empty post when I set my phone down.  Ahhh, technology….)

Had you driven by the house around 10am, you would have thought me a bit odd.  If you went by again at 10:10, you’d change your mind that I’m crazy.  By 10:30…why, by then you’d think I was certifiably mental.  I spent about forty minutes this morning laying/kneeling in the damp grass, watching a bug.

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I had just gotten home from the store and Nancy and I started chatting in the garden and looking at beans, and next thing you know, I noticed there was a cicada on the lower stem of the purple beans, crawling out of his shell.

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Now these are ugly, but interesting guys. Every seventeen years or so, we apparently get them in biblical proportions, but these aren’t the locusts from Exodus that ate all the crops as one of the plagues—those are grasshoppers. These guys sing to you from their hiding places in the trees. Amazing sound.

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An empty cicada shell

Before that, they live in the ground, until they decide it’s time to grow up. Then they crawl up onto something (in this case, our Thai beans), hang on with their lil feet, and wiggle their way out of their exoskeleton. They’re against the clock in this endeavor, as their shell gets extremely rigid. If they don’t get out soon enough, they die.

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It took him about thirty minutes from the time we found him for him to wiggle out. His legs would twitch then he’d do a couple crunches, then when we were wondering if he had given up he started the process over.

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Once free on his shell, he climbed up to another branch, to sit and wait. Now is when he’s the most vulnerable, as his new exoskeleton hasn’t hardened and his wings haven’t dried.  As he waits, his wings fill out to their full size, and every once in a while he would move them a bit to check their progress.

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Lil cicada hanging to dry, his past self behind him.

His wings were rather opaque when he first stepped out, but as he sat longer, they cleared up. He also tucked them by his body, which is how they sit normally.

Opaque wings
Opaque wings

Nancy checked on him later, and by 2pm, he was gone, to live the locust’s life, and sing to us of summer days.  It was quite an amazing experience to see this little bug being “born” right in our own garden! Nature is beautiful, even with this guy, whom I no longer consider to be ugly.
Almost done and ready to go!
Almost done and ready to go!

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3 thoughts on “It’s a Locust’s Life

  1. It was a fascinating thing to see. You got some good pictures, especially the last one where you can see the coppery iridescent parts of his body. That was luck that he was there and you spied him, cos some people never get to see any part of that. And some who would, wouldn’t care to watch and understand it. I’m so glad we both had time to see the whole thing.

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