Night of the Cicadas
Reston, VA

It's cicada time! For several nights, these big fat things came up out of the ground to climb up our trees and houses and shed their skins. I had always wondered what the process looked like, so didn't miss this opportunity to catch it on film. These photos were all taken at night with a flash.

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The National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects & Spiders identifies these as the Periodical Cicada, Latin name: Magicicada spp. The larval stage, called a "nymph", feeds on the sap of tree roots and takes 13 to 17 years to mature! After that, "each nymph crawls to the nearest upright support, splits its skin, and transforms to an adult. The simultaneous appearance of thousands of cicadas during a few weeks overwhelms predators, permitting the great majority to mate undisturbed."

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