Watching Nature Unfold

Miss 5: MUM! You have to see this. It’s weird. And cool. M-U-M!

Me: I think that’s a cicada nymph.  Can you see the shell underneath? We sometimes find empty cicada shells, don’t we? It looks like this little guy didn’t quite make it out.  

A few minutes later…

Miss 5: Mum, I don’t think he’s dead after all. He’s moving!

Me: You’re right! He’s pulling himself up to the tree now, and I think those wings are getting bigger.

Miss 5: Now his whole body has come out of the shell.

Me: Wow, look how his abdomen curls out like that. It really IS weird and cool. You were right.

Miss 5: I know.

Me: Whoa! Check out his wings!

Miss 5: Are they growing?

Me: No, I think they are just getting bigger as they are drying out. See how they are wrinkly and curled up? I think they need to be all smooth before he can fly.

Miss 5: Butterflies have to wait for their wings to dry before they can fly too.

Me: Good thinking. I wonder if all flying insects have to wait for their wings to dry…?

Miss 5: Do you think his wings are ready now Mum?

Me: I don’t know. I guess we’ll have to keep watching.

Miss 5: He’s crawling away from his shell now.

Me: Maybe he’s not quite ready for flying yet…

Mr 3: I can get him and “fly” him for you if you like

Miss 5 and Me: NO!!!

An hour later…

Me: Dinner time kids. Time to come inside now.

Miss 5: But I want to see him fly away.

Me: Let’s take one last photo before the sun sets. Can you see how his wings are much closer to his body now?

Miss 5: Before they were out flat.

Me: I think he will stay there now until it’s dark, and fly away in the night.

Miss 5: I’ll check if he’s gone in the morning…


If you have a child who is into bugs, you might like to watch the following 5min documentary snippet from Sir David Attenborough about the life cycle of cicadas in America.  (Stop it at the 4min mark if you aren’t ready to explain what the male and female adult insects are doing together…)  In Australia, our cicadas don’t emerge on mass the same way – but they are still pretty noisy!

Other SquiggleMum posts about kids observing nature:

6 thoughts on “Watching Nature Unfold

  1. Very, very cool! Your photography is awesome too. I like to keep my camera on the dinner table during the day, just to catch any special moments.

  2. How great that you just happened to catch one emerging! What a great moment that you and your kids will surely remember. We will be on the lookout for these critters in the summer! Great photos!

Comments are closed.