Ever since I saw my first adult cicada in Northwest Florida and realized they were not harmful (initially they appeared somewhat formidable), I have fallen in love with these marvelous beings. They have a sort of mystery about them.
Through the years I have seen hundreds of nymph shells and plenty of adults. However; once my husband and I started volunteering in our local forest campground with tons of trees, and they were everywhere, I made it my mission to find a live nymph and watch it molt into an adult. One evening I finally got lucky and it was a miraculous, emotional, and wondrous experience. Although since my first one I have watched several others molt, my first one will forever be etched in my memories.
“Crystal,” as I named her because of her beautiful crystalline wings, molted on Sunday, August 14th, 2022. From the time I discovered her at almost 8 p.m., it took about an hour for her to totally come out of her shell. Another ten minutes and her wings were fully extended. The experience was so emotional and euphoric. Although I realize these creatures have been doing this for centuries, I talked her through the experience, encouraging her, and was so thrilled when she first moved her front legs. It was both a sad and joyous occasion as the nymph “died” while the process started of the “birth” of the new adult. It was just extraordinary to know one minute this other being was crawling up the tree, and then that part ended and a new facet started.
Since then I have observed several others and delighted in the varying colors and sizes of the different ones I have witnessed. After Crystal, I saw a huge one I named “Rose” because she was a beautiful pink color. Then came “Rambo” because he had a beautiful rainbow coloring of blues and greens. Although I did not get to watch this one molt, I found a tiny shell on the property and could not imagine one that tiny. It was only about the size of a small fingernail. However; later I did get to see two smaller ones molt, the last one being the smallest live one I had ever witnessed. I named that one “Bitsy.”
Sadly there were not always happy endings and I had one not make it to the molting process and die as a nymph.
Something interesting I discovered is that shortly before molting these wonderful creatures proceed to clean their antennas and it is so adorable to watch.
I will forever feel blessed to have been given these opportunities to see these wonderful creatures as they go through their life cycles and I look forward to many more.