From the Curiosity Cabinet: A Cicada Cast-off


This little cicada shell was gleaming in the sun like a miniature bronze, and naturally it beckoned to come home with me. It is the moulted shell from the final  stage in a cicada’s growth. You may have happened across a similar empty shell tentatively clinging to a tree branch. You’d bring it home too, wouldn’t you?

The escape hatch. A little tear up the back.

*If you are curious about method, this cicada shell was photographed on a mirror.

All images © Karen McRae. 2012

64 thoughts on “From the Curiosity Cabinet: A Cicada Cast-off

  1. I always find both these and empty chrysalises (obviously) very inspiring. Beatiful images too!

      1. Yes. But it must also get uncomfortable inside them beyond a certain point. You would start to feel the itch to stretch your wings. That would be the incentive that makes all the effort worth it 🙂

  2. When my daughter was little, we lived through the 17 year cicada infestation. When we moved several years later I found a baggie of cicada shells behind her dresser.This brings back memories and is really well shot.

  3. Great detail on these, amazing how they get out of the suit. We listen to these in summer evenings in France, but not in the UK, a soundtrack to lazy barbecues.


  4. Beautiful and evoked memories for me of staying with my grandmother in Alexandria, Virginia. We grandchildren would collect the shells from all over her neighborhood. It was my brother’s idea; he was always a little creepy that way. We called them locust shells.

  5. Cicada shells bring back so many childhood memories! Whooshing back playfully like children in an Australian backyard! Beautiful! Thankyou:)

  6. Lovely! In Greece we call them tzitzikia (because they sound like this:- tzi – tzi ). As children we used to capture them. A whole adventure to trace them on a tree, because they keep quite when they sense movement and danger around. And since they are brownish, and sit on tree trunks of the same colour, you have to spot them while they sing. The shells are actually green. They come out of the wholes in the ground trying to get high enough, so the sun will make the shell crisp and allow them to escape it.
    Thanks for the photos and the awakening of memories!

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