Friday, August 21, 2009


We've had a heatwave for the past 9 days. It has been unbearably warm and humid and I have done very little in the way of physical activity because of the monumental effort required. This is the worst I've felt from the heat since diagnosis, spending a lot of time flaked out on the bed with the fan on me. Most evenings find me outside enjoying the relatively cool evenings. My neighbour, Kim, and I do a little tour around the outside of the building before calling it a night, looking for bugs. Well, I look, Kim accompanies me and calls me crazy.

Last night I found a big beetle like bug on the wall behind the building:

I ran inside to get a container to put it in and then took it inside for closer examination. It offered no resistance and very little movement. I also noticed it didn't appear to have wings.

Under the microscope, this creature took on a terrifying appearance. The claws on its front legs were enough to make me jump back. And then it moved. Or something on its back moved and I realized it was molting and shedding its outer covering.

Was this animal simply shedding a layer or was it actually in the process of becoming an adult? It took about half an hour for this little thing to come out:

While it was pulling and squirming out of its shell I was googling like mad to find out what it was. The little bit of green that emerged clinched it for me. Wings! It's a cicada!

What a transformation I was privy to. I let it go outside once its wings were pumped up, leaving it on a bush in the back. It was there this morning when I checked, but gone by this afternoon. The ferocious looking claws are for digging its way through the dirt where it spends the majority of its life. As adults, they are the noisy insects you hear on the hottest summer days, sounding like buzzing overhead power lines.

I had never seen a cicada youngster before so it was all very exciting. I felt like handing out cigars last night...



Kelli said...

Our granddaughter won't even hold the outer shell from which the cicada emerges. I saved a cicada from the curiousity of our new puppy a few days ago.
I have frequent episodes of vertigo and tinnitus. The sound I hear is much like the noise of cicadas.
Hope your heat has relented.

Lisa Emrich said...

Ah, the cicadas. In 2004, the 17-year cicadas emerged in DC. It was something out of a horror film (almost).

An unbelievable amount of creatures EVERYWHERE!! The sound outside was simply deafening. You could see little red eyes on practically every surface. It was even hard not to step on them. Ewwww.

Roar of the Cicadas Check out the related NPR Stories, too.

Shauna said...

I have to admit that even I find some bugs a little on the creepy side, especially under the microscope.
I haven't experienced the tinnitus to any great degree, though I appear to be sensitive to tones in the upper ranges.
The heat is still on....a little mist and fog tonight in advance of a hurricane Sunday...

I love reading about those cicada stories. Thanks for the link. If it's any consolation, this year we had tons of mayflies (in July and even into August) and they would be all over our cars in the morning. Ontario has an even bigger problem with the mayflies every year as they come out in the millions reducing visibility on highways.
What concerns me about the mayflies is the fact that they have survived the streams and rivers and emerged as adults. That may be an indicator of fewer trout and other predators who love to eat the mayfly larva.
Up close, the cicadas are kind of cute....quite a difference from their grub stage where they look positively evil.
Cicadas, mayflies, and maggots...quite an eventful summer so far.


Pat's Preserves said...

Hey Shawna, you are missed...

Pat :-(

Pat's Preserves said...

you know where to find me or contact me, hope to chat soon,

Your Friend


Shauna said...

Hey Pat,
Thanks for checking in. I'll call soon!


Diane J Standiford said...

Wow, Mommy! Even in heat wave you find bugs and follow your passion! MS Master.

Shauna said...

It cooled off enough in the evenings to go scouting for the creepy crawlies....good thing, too.