Time lapse: watch an entrancing video of a cicada shedding its crunchy shell

By Brad Leue 27 October 2017
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This time-lapse sequence shows the transformation of the emerald fairy cicada, from a nymph exoskeleton, through to its completed adult form.

THE EMERALD FAIRY cicada can be found in northern Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland, with this particular footage being captured in the south-west Kimberley region of Western Australia.

During the build up to the wet season in northern Australia, the air becomes filled with the sound of buzzing, as cicada nymphs emerge from an extensive period of growth underground to shed their exoskeleton and find a mate in their completed form.

In its nymph stage, the wingless cicada can live underground for up to 6-7 years, feeding on sap from tree and plant roots. Once the nymphs development is complete, the cicada digs its way to the surface where it will attach to a tree or similar object to begin its final transformation.

cicada time lapse

cicada time lapse

cicada time lapse

(Image Credits: Brad Leue)

At its completed stage, the cicada will only live for roughly two weeks, in which time mating will take place and eggs will be laid. Once fertilised, the female cicada pierces holes into tree stems with her ovipositor, inserting the eggs into the created holes. Once the eggs hatch, the young nymphs fall to the ground and begin to burrow below the surface, where the cycle of growth will commence.

To capture the cicada’s final transformation, a series of 3,466 photos were taken over a period of almost two hours. The collection was then comprised into a time-lapse sequence to produce the final footage shown. I felt the time-lapse process was best suited to capture the pulsating and subtle movements that break the cicada out of its previous state.

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