02 September 2008

Parade of cicada exuviae


I saw these exuviae* of cicadas last nite underneath one of the branches of a large pine tree I have in my backyard.

I don't know what species they are. I photographed a live cicada about a week ago in College Park, which may have been the same species as these. I posted its pictures on BugGuide.net a couple of days later, but no one has so far come up with an identification.

*I am confused about this word. Exuviae is a plural; for example, Merriam-Webster, defines it as "sloughed off natural animal coverings", but doesn't give a singular form of the word. Yet Gullan & Cranston (The Insects, An Outline of Entomology, 2005) have this statement in the caption of Fig. 10.2: "adult [mosquito] emerging from its pupal exuviae at the water surface". And the picture shows one mosquito that must have had one covering.

1 comment:

Christopher Taylor said...

Re the correct form of exuviae:

Funnily enough, there was an argument on Taxacom not so long ago on exactly this point. If I understand what was being said correctly, then "exuviae" (classical meaning - armour stripped from a dead enemy, or skin taken from or shed by an animal) is correctly a plural term that is used as a singular, in the same way that English speakers say "I take off my clothes" and never "I take off my cloth".