20120729 Cicada Triple Threat, a set on Flickr.
There's a particular tree I watch for signs of cicada activity. The bugs have been chittering away since late June in my neighborhood, but my tree had remained cicada free until the beginning of July.
In the past they've tended to appear in this tree about mid-July, so I personally considered that first one to be a bit early. After that first one, almost nothing and those that made it above ground seemed injured, flawed, or perhaps simply tired from the hard dig, until now, at the end of July.
Cicadas grow up underground and the drought conditions we've had caused me to suspect they'd be late this year, being unable to dig up through the hard, dry soil. The ground is packed rather densely around here.
Sure enough, last week brought some much needed rain and here the cicadas are, in abundance! I found a total of 4 on Sunday night, two almost right next to each other and a third on a nearby branch. The number wasn't unusual, but the fact that there were all in about the same stage of emergence was unusual. Also, the initial two were in closer proximity to one another than I've seen in the past.
Later the same evening I found the fourth one, on another side of the tree, who hadn't been on the tree at all an hour or so before.
I'm curious to learn how fast a healthy cicada can move before it exits it's shell. Those I've seen in action have all been extraordinarily clumsy, unable to stay upright, or right themselves when they tumble. I suspect they were somehow unhealthy or defective, though no signs were obvious except their inability to transport themselves effectively. All 4 from Sunday night seemed quite well.
I spotted three new shells on the tree Monday night, one with it's former occupant still nearby. Many more will come soon, I'm sure.