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August 3, 2012 / Rae Spencer

Another Cicada Molt

Last night, I wandered outside around nine-thirty. A thin layer of clouds framed the moon, a cool breeze stirred the leaves, and the yard smelled like fresh-cut grass. I meant only to enjoy a late night ramble with the dog. So I was unprepared for this molting cicada. No camera. No shoes. No mosquito repellent.

After a few chaotic moments of rushing from room to room, tripping over the excited dog (she didn’t understand our new game, but did her best to play along), and dropping things that are too fragile to be dropped very often, I made it back to the fence in time to catch most of the molt.

My only regret is that I couldn’t find the mosquito repellent…


  1. jeaniemac100 / Aug 3 2012 8:35 PM

    Oh my gosh, Rae. This is incredible. How long did it take him?

    • Rae Spencer / Aug 3 2012 9:53 PM

      It seemed like he needed to rest a while, after getting his head and thorax free. About thirty minutes passed between the first and fourth photos. He hung half out of his old skin, legs in the air, and hardly moved at all during that time. Then he reached up, grabbed onto the old skin, and pulled himself upright. His wings unfurled as he wiggled his abdomen free, which all happened pretty fast compared to the rest of the process. Only about five minutes passed between the fourth and fifth photos. I left after that, but couldn’t resist checking in on him every so often. The final photo was taken two hours later.

  2. lamehousewife / Aug 3 2012 10:03 PM

    Oh my goodness! Is that a big bug or what? Wow!

    • Rae Spencer / Aug 4 2012 2:06 AM

      I was surprised, when I saw it the last time, at how big the adult cicada looked next to its discarded “skin”. Those last few hours before molting must be really uncomfortable!

      • lamehousewife / Aug 4 2012 10:40 AM

        It’s like being born:) Thank you for all of the beautiful pictures you share. I really enjoy the beauty of nature that you are able to capture. Blessings…

  3. kathrynmartins1 / Aug 3 2012 11:05 PM

    That’s a miracle, Rae. It really is…

    • Rae Spencer / Aug 4 2012 2:30 AM

      It certainly seemed like a miracle to me. The yard felt peaceful and calm, during the cicada’s emergence, as if the transformation of this single insect mattered.

  4. lynnwyvill / Aug 4 2012 11:12 AM

    You must have moved mighty fast to get these great photos! I never seem to have a camera when I need one, either, except, unlike you, I’m usually miles from the house. Mosquito bites? Hate ’em, but I rub white vingar on them. You smell like salad for a couple of minutes, but it takes the itch away for me.

    • Rae Spencer / Aug 4 2012 11:24 AM

      I don’t itch as bad as expected, thankfully!

  5. Sharon Poch / Aug 4 2012 12:29 PM

    Rae, no where else would I experience you’ve just shared. Thank you.

  6. Simone Lipscomb / Aug 4 2012 5:17 PM

    Very nice!!!

  7. bardessdmdenton / Aug 11 2012 4:09 PM

    Fascinating, Rae, and great shots!

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