Brood X Cicadas Attempting to Molt: Success and Failure

Videos by Mary Free, Extension Master Gardener

This video shows several stages in a successful molt of a Brood X cicada within about a 50-minute time frame. (It is not the full molt in time lapse.) The last clips show the newly emerged cicada gripping its exoskeleton after pulling itself out (not recorded) and, 7 minutes later, how its wings have started to expand. Cicadas provide the background din.

Video © Mary Free

This video may be difficult to watch knowing that this Brood X cicada’s attempt to molt will end in failure. Enough time has elapsed for its right wing to have started to expand and yet it struggles for another hour and ten minutes to extract itself. Two cicadas with mangled wings pass by as they climb the trunk of the oak tree. Though they probably suffered the wing damage during the molting process, they survived. The cicada trapped inside the exoskeleton will not be so fortunate as its left wing looks like it is stuck. By the end of the recording, its right wing appears to be full size and its body is graying as it hardens. Seventeen seconds in, you can barely hear the cicada’s sound vibrations above the din of the others.

Video © Mary Free

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