Yesterday after dropping my son off at school, Lou and I walked back through the bush and came across this wonder not far from our home.
We discovered this cicada coming out of it's shell.
Lou and I went back home to get Katie, who was off school sick. We didn't want her to miss this.
Katie was excited. She thought it was a Yellow Monday.
We sat for a while trying to protect the cicada from the sun and birds. Usually, cicadas come out of the ground in the evening in the safely of darkness when the birds are asleep. The cicada is very vulnerable at this stage and their wings are very delicate. They need to be able to pump their wings out. It was cold and windy. Katie was worried that its wings would dry out and it wouldn't be able to pump them out.
Katie carefully got the cicada onto a stick and brought it home.
Here the cicada sat on this stick in my kitchen for a few hours, pumping it wings in the safety of our home with Katie and Lou watching and keeping a check on her (girl cicada). Their wings are moist and if bumped they can deform easily, making the wings useless for flight. Sometimes you see cicadas with deformed wings when they come out of the ground during the day and the sun has dried them out before they can fully pump them out. Or, they have fallen off their shell onto the ground on their back and haven't been able to flip themselves around and their wings set all bent and misshapen. Katie found one like that the other day.
Now, what was amazing was that we left her there for a few hours. The kids and I got on with other things - we baked cookies, so the kitchen was nice and warm. When we came back to check on her she had changed again. She developed back markings on her head and her tail turned black.
This type of Cicada is called a "Masked Devil". It has a black stripe that goes between its eyes like a little mask. In all my years of looking out for cicadas and collecting them as a child, I haven't seen this type before this season. I wonder if it is native to the upper mountains region.
We kept her until my son got home from school. Then we thought it was time to release her back into the wild now that she had safely gotten out her shell.
We went down into the bush and found a gum tree that would be a nice home for her.
Off she goes......