I Thought Cicadas Lived in the South, But I Found One in Maine
It's one of the creepiest looking bugs I've ever seen, but I was fascinated when I realized it's a cicada.
Did you know that cicadas can be found in Maine? I sure didn't. I thought of them as southern insects. Last year, my husband and I traveled to his hometown in New Jersey, and they were everywhere. If you've never heard them, they make a unique sound that is, at first, pretty cool. Eventually, however, it becomes a lot of noise.
How Did You Identify It?
On Thursday, I was out in my yard in Orrington when I noticed this prehistoric-looking bug on the side of one of our trees. It has hooked claws, kind of like a praying mantis, huge eyes like a giant fly, and was a weird dusty brown color. I'd never seen anything like it. So I took a few pictures and then headed to Google. Sure enough, I found it on the University of Maine's Cooperative Extension page. It's a newly-hatched cicada. And its appearance here in the north is less unusual than I'd thought.
It Wasn't the Actual Bug?
What I learned is that what I saw was not a bug at all. It's actually an exoskeleton for a cicada, which makes it even creepier, in a way. An adult cicada is over an inch long and has clear wings that sit on top of its body. But when it's young, in the nymph stage, it has this brown outer shell to protect it. The nymph's first job is to climb a foot or two up off the ground and molt to the adult stage.
What they leave behind is this creepy-looking shell. According to UMaine, these typically-southern bugs are often found during the dog days of summer, in late July and August. They can stay burrowed underground for 2 to 5 years but, each year, some of them will emerge.
An adult cicada is actually pretty cool looking, in pictures. But in person, they're big scary-looking bugs with huge wings. My husband laughed at me in New Jersey when I jumped at the sight of one sitting on top of someone's car.
Can We Expect to See More of Them?
Now that I know what this exoskeleton is, I'm not as freaked out. Plus, the Cooperative Extension experts say that it's more common to find the exoskeleton than to find the actual bugs because they fly high in the trees. But if one of those cicadas finds its way into my house or car, all bets are off. They're huge!