“Exuberant about exuvia!”

That was the subject line of an email I received recently from a friend back in Eugene, Oregon (known in comments as Karyn). Here’s what she wrote:

P. came over this evening. She helped me haul some wood chips into the backyard and then we were sitting on the deck enjoying a cool beverage while A. was grilling. As is common for a time in the late afternoon/early evening, our backyard was filled with the sound of some insect. I say “some insect” because A. and I have looked at each other and said, “It isn’t crickets. What the hell is it? Could it be cicadas?” The sound largely seems to be coming from high up in the big Douglas fir we have on our property.

So, tonight P. is sitting with me and the sound is going and P. says, “If we were on the east coast I’d think those were cicadas. Do you know what they are?” So, I grabbed my iPad and did a search for “cicadas in Oregon” to see if they existed here. At the head of the search was an Oregon Expat blog post from May 2013, “Return of the Cicadas.” In the comments section, Power Wench stated that she had heard cicadas in Oregon and then provided a link to a blog post from July 2008 about someone finding cicadas in Hillsboro. This blog mentioned finding exuvia (shed exoskeletons) on the trees.

P. and I looked at each other and put our shoes back on to go have a look at the trees to see if we might solve a mystery. Check out what we found:


Exuvia! This is P’s gloved finger pointing to one exoskeleton. Altogether we located four exuvia on three different trees, all Douglas firs. So, it appears that we have cicadas in our trees.

The next day, an update arrived:

I sent P. a link to your May blog post about cicadas so that she could watch the video you linked. She also did a bit of research. Here’s her response:

“Wow! I didn’t think it was possible to be moved by watching insect transformation, but I was! That’s some video. I did a bit more investigation of our friend, the Okanagana species. It has a 2–5 year life cycle, and prefers Douglas fir as a host. There are 36 species of Okanagana, though ours may be the Okanagana bella (latin translates as “beautiful”) which prefers Douglas fir, or the Okanagana occidentalis (western). Their primary food is sap. And we are hearing the mating call! Just think of all that passion occuring above our heads last night. P.”

I am proud to have inspired others to get their geek on.


About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
This entry was posted in Oregon, wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to “Exuberant about exuvia!”

  1. Power Wench says:

    Extremely cool!

  2. Carol says:

    Do a search for Niagra Falls quad copter video. It’s beautiful.

  3. xenatuba says:

    I got to enjoy their trip to the back of the lot (90 feet from the house) and hear their exclamations of joy as they located their exuvia. I just fed them fresh off the grill dinner.

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