The Cicada Life Cycle and Other Things

–T-minus 2 days until the movers arrive. Eek! This piece was dictated to me by our 6 year old son.  Enjoy!–

Hi.  Who do you think I am?  I’m Quenton.  Do you think we are doing anything interesting today?  Last time we did a submarine and something about the Coast Guard.  This time we are doing something on cicadas.  Actually, we are investigating cicadas because they are right in our yard.


Cicadas live underground for 13, 17 or 19 years.  A couple only live for one year underground but those are not the ones we have.  This is our first year seeing cicadas and we moved here three years ago.  I learned that egg is the first stage of their life.  The eggs are laid in the bark of a tree.  They hatch into larvae in the second stage.  The larvae gets out of the tree bark, climbs down the tree and goes into the ground.  They do four stages underground.  The first stage underground is the second larvae or instar nymph.  The third and fourth instar nymphs are the two stages after that.  They grow bigger and bigger as they go through changes underground.  They grow bigger because they eat tree sap from tree’s roots. Finally, they come up as the fourth instar nymph.


The fourth instar nymph crawls back up the tree it was born in after it digs out of the ground.  We saw the fourth instar nymphs crawling up the tree in our front yard.  They were in the backyard too. I actually picked some up and so did my sister.  We put them on the tree and one actually stayed in the cicada castle I built.  I built the castle in our front yard tree to help the cicadas live better in the tree.


The fourth instar nymph clings onto a tree with its strong front claws. Then it starts to molt out of its skin.  The skin starts to crack open on the back body or head.  Then it pulls and pulls and comes out of it’s skin.  Then it is called a teneral adult.  The teneral adult has wings.  And then when the wings are ready to fly it becomes an adult.  The adults fly around, mate, lay eggs and then die.  And the eggs are the new batch of cicadas.


Cicadas have red eyes when I saw them.  They have three simple eyes on their nose almost.  On the sides of their head they have two compound eyes.  The compound eyes are red and the simple eyes are black.  Some cicadas come out white and some come out black.  We thought the white ones are the teneral adults and the black ones are adults.  But that hypothesis has gone kind of wrong.  It’s gone wrong because we saw black ones coming out of their exoskeletons.  We don’t know why some are white and some are black, maybe its male and female, we don’t know.  We looked up that they are black because they are cold blooded, but that might be wrong also.  I might need to do some more research.  Bye for now friends, love Quenton.

–Like hearing about our homeschool learning?  Wondering what other adventures we go on?  Scroll down to the bottom of the blog and subscribe to get updates each time we post!–

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