The nymphs climb out of their casing, leaving these empty shells all over the countryside hanging from trees and plants. Look for them when you are next walking.
Cicadas are part of the Homoptera family, as these insects have two pairs of wings in the same structure, often transparent and membranous which when resting fold flat over the back. Here a newly emerged red-nosed Cidada, still on its casing. The wings and body will turn black within the next hour or so.
Cicadas lay their eggs in the tree bark after mating. The nymphs then emerge and burrow straight into the soil below, where they remain from a few months to a few years! (one species in America remains underground for 17 years….quite a long adolescence). The nymph then crawls to the surface, climbs a nearby plant or tree, and emerges from its old “skin”. These hunched over empty shells can be found all over the countryside. As they often emerge together they can be found on great numbers on tree trunks, as in the picture below.
Cicadas pierce into plants to sip the juice inside. These noisy creatures are an important part of the food chain, and are commonly eaten by birds, squirrels, and bats, as well as wasps, mantises, spiders and robber flies. In times of mass emergence of cicadas, various amphibians, fish, reptiles, mammals and birds change their foraging habits so as to benefit from the glut. These unique creatures only live for a couple of months maximum, and spend that time looking for a mate and avoiding the predators mentioned above.
Many simply die, and can be found with mould growing over their body parts, giving them a surreal appearance, as in the photo below.