Cicada Molt on a Tree

I’ve occassionally seen these papery shell of what appears to be some sort of insect and wondered “What is this?” At first, I thought it was a dead insect. My dad was able to easily identify it as the molt of a “chukachun” or cicada. He remembered them from his childhood in the southern province of Songhkla, where he used to catch them in the woods near the beach.

Basically, the papery shell is what is left over when the cicada grows too big for its current exoskeleton. As it grows larger, the cicada would cling to a tree and then it bust out a crease along the back. The cicada then leaves its old skeleton on that tree as it crawls or flies away.

Cicadas are interesting creatures and besides their curious molting behavior, they also have an interesting call. The male cicada makes a mechanical noise that resembles a lawn mower. When hundreds of male cicada make this noise simultaneously calling for females, it can be a defening sound. You probably won’t find many cicada in urban areas, but if you are in a wooded area you might be lucky enough to find evidence of this bizarre insect.


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