Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The beautiful cicada!

A few days ago I was laying on the hammock reading, and I found this cicada in the process of molting and   emerging from its nymph stage. About a meter from the hammock I have a stake in the ground with some cord attached to it, which we use to swing on the hammock. My dog, Kermit, usually stares up into the trees watching the squirrels (perhaps waiting for one to fall?) but he was instead staring at the stake in the ground, indeed, he noticed the odd protrusion near the top of the stake before I did. 

The cicada didn't appear to be moving at all, leading me to believe that it was actually dead. I was a little saddened but this, but also glad that I was at least fortunate enough to see part of this amazing process. However, the next morning when I went to mow the backyard, I immediately noticed the cicada was no longer on the stake. This didn't surprise me, I thought it was likely that something would find it and eat it during the night. But to my shock, I found it alive and well on the ground, a few feet away from the stake. Its wings were fully out and it was moving. I snapped a few photos and carefully placed it on one of the large silver maples in our yard, before cutting the grass. 

Day two:

I am not completely sure what species it is, so if you have some ideas please comment below. I think it might be a Tibicen tibicen,but I am not positive.  
We live in an older neighborhood in Champaign, so there are more cicadas around than in the newer subdivisions, where the top soil has been disturbed and removed. When we first arrived at the end of July in 2011, one of the 13 year broods had just emerged, and the cacophony of cicada singing was deafening, but beautiful. From what I have read online, different broods from various 3-5 year cicada species emerge each summer in Illinois. I enjoy and welcome the sound of the cicada song at night, it makes me feel less like I live in the middle of an urban area, and strangely enough, but perhaps for that reason, it reminds me of New Hampshire. As far as I know, there are no cicada species in NH. In rural New Hampshire, the primary sound from my bedroom window was the wind passing through the forest, rustling the leaves and causing trees to creak. 
Listening to the cicadas as I type this post, while I reminisce about NH, I am reminded of one my favorite poems: 

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

— Wendell Berry