Monday, September 7, 2009

September Bugs

My boy found quite a few bugs today, and we got a close look at them all. Here are pictures of some of the most interesting ones. You will see a cicada's molted skin clinging to the bark of a tree in the picture below. I remember finding these little skins on trees when I was a girl, and wondering what had been inside them.

The cicada nymph spends seventeen years burrowing around underground and chewing on tree roots before climbing out and molting. Look closely and you can see how the cicada split the skin on its back to wriggle out. If you want to see a wonderful time-lapse film of the cicada molting, click on the title of this posting.

I think this feisty little creature is called a katydid, but I'm not really sure. My son examined him carefully and held him up for me to see. The katydid tried to bite him! I think the katydid looks like a cranky old fellow in the picture below. He seems to be saying, "Unhand me, you oaf!"

Then, the prize find of the day, brought home by accident in an armful of fennel from the garden, these beautiful swallowtail butterfly caterpillars. It is safe to touch them and they are a wonderful pet caterpillar for children. I will be recording their growth and metamorphosis in the coming week.


gardenmama said...

We just found a cicada's molted skin yesterday and then researched more about it, nature certainly is incredible!! What gorgeous caterpillars, and even more gorgeous as they transform into their new life! Enjoy your time getting to know these creatures : )

Beth said...

Last year the cicadas swarmed out of the ground on the Cape and filled the trees, making a sound like thousands of people raking gravel with metal rakes. I can't believe the length of their life cycle. It is amazing to think how old my children will be next time they make their appearance. And the caterpillars are fascinating! They are becoming chrysalises just now.