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Disaster Averted This Evening!

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Disaster Averted This Evening!

T. canicularis cicada with problems

9:30 pm - There were many loud and violent thunderstorms that rolled through my area over the last few days so there wasn't much going on in the way of Cicada hunting. Finally though, tonight I have a chance to make it out of the house.

When I arrived at St. Patrick Cemetery, there were tons of small downed branches everywhere due to the storm. I made my normal rounds. It's a warm night and also humid as hell. I noticed a small T. canicularis on a downed branch at the base of one of my favorite Ash trees. Naturally, I forget my friggin' camera again to take pictures.

I decided to leave this Cicada as it has just settled down to molt. I'm after only nymphs this evening for my new terrarium.

I visit another of my favorite Ash trees and what do I discover for the very fist time? A Walking Stick insect! It was hanging on the side of the Ash tree and me without my camera!! Man, this thing was long and narrow and really strange looking. It looked exactly like a stick.

I cursed myself for not having my camera. No problem, i'll just put it in a specimen jar, I can take nice closeup pictures at home. But, how do I get it in the jar? I've never handled a Walking Stick insect before. Do they bite? I suspect not but I sure don't want to find out.

I decided to play it safe and try to coax it onto a stick that I found conveniently on the ground. My plan was to transfer it from the stick to the jar. It looks too wide when the legs are factored in to just put the mouth of the jar over it.

I tried to get it on the stick but it dropped to the ground. Apparently it wanted no part of the stick I was carrying. It was so thin that when it fell, I lost sight of it. Dammit!! That thing was cool. I looked on the ground for 15 minutes in the hopes of seeing it crawling around but it was too dark and my light wasn't bright enough so I lost it.

I continued my nymph hunt and I find 2 nymphs, probably T. canicularis on a pine tree. I put them in my divider tray and carry on. I'm seeing tons of molting Cicadas, mostly on pine trees but some are on Maple, Oak and Ash as well.

The majority again seem to be females. I find another nymph on an Ash tree. I walk around for about an hour. I see additional molting Cicadas. I look in the tray several times. One Cicada is on it's back. It looks to me like it's playing dead. Not a problem, I've seen this behavior before. The other 2 nymphs are trying to walk on the slick plastic bottom with no luck. They keep slipping.

Remember, Cicadas won't molt unless they have some place to anchor their legs.

After another 15 minutes I find another nymph on a Maple tree bordering the roadway. I grab it and decide to head home.

Damn!! My theory just went out the window!! What theory is that you ask? Well the one where I mentioned that Cicada nymphs won't molt if they can't anchor their legs.

Apparently the nymph that I thought was playing dead actually started to molt right in the tray. By the time I got back to the car it had it's head out. Damn, damn, DAMN!! It isn't going to make it unless I do something fast.

Since it was partially emerged, the abdomen part of the nymph shell was empty. I decided to grasp and hold the Cicada by the empty nymph shell abdomen. This seemed to work.

I drove home holding the Cicada in my left hand while steering the car with my right. I was afraid that if I went over a bump that the Cicada may spill out of the nymph shell. But fortunately, this didn't happen.

By the time I got home, the Cicada was hanging out of the nymph shell almost up-side-down. I walked up the stairs slowly so as not to cause any sudden movements. I showed Kim the Cicada and explained to her what happened and what was currently happening. She was so grossed out by the partially emerged pink Cicada that she was almost sick.

I grabbed my camera and snapped a few pictures.

Now I had a real dilema. How could I put this Cicada somewhere and tend to the other 3 nymphs still in the tray? After all, this Cicada still had at least 45 minutes to an hour left to complete the molt process. I surely didn't want the others to decide that they should molt in the tray as well. Then I'd really have a problem.

All-of-a-sudden the idea lightbulb went on in my head. You may or may not know but I also collect Japanese robot toys. To the rescue came my 1984 Votoms Scopedog. A toy manufactured by Takara of Japan in 1984.

I noticed that the toy is holding a gun in it's hand. Since the Cicada was still virtually hanging up-side-down, I knew that soon it would right itself in order to grasp it's nymph shell, then pull the rest of it's abdomen out of the shell to allow it's wings to expand. Instead of allowing the Cicada to grasp the shell, I would force it to grab the thin section of the toy gun instead when it righted itself.

Slowly and carefully I put the Cicada underneath the toy gun that my Votoms Scopedog toy is holding. I started to panic when the Cicada had brief trouble grasping the gun because of the smooth plastic.

It did work however. Instead of grabbing it's own nymph shell to pull itself out it grabbed the gun without a problem. Check the picture sequence below by clicking on the thumbnails. This female T. canicularis came out just fine.

I checked the other three nymphs still in the tray. All three still have not molted. Over an hour had passed since I retrieved them from the cemetery. I placed them on a live Lilac branch that I had in the new terrarium. All 4 of these Cicadas completed the molt process just fine and were female, no males at all.

I was unable to get pics of the nymphs in the terrarium due to flash back from my camera's flash.

Date Posted: 2004-08-23 Comments: (0) Show CommentsHide Comments


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