Science

Look at All of These Beautiful Cicadas

a cicada in the middle of cicada shells
Regal. OLIVIER DOULIERY/Getty Images

Billions of cicadas, members of Brood X, are emerging from the Earth. They are molting. They are having sex, their butts are falling off . They are involved with a psychedelic fungus.

But perhaps nothing is more glorious than the simple presence of the cicadas themselves. What do cicadas look like in up-close detail, and also in large numbers? Glad you asked.

We’ll start with some cicadas molting:

a cicada emerges from its shell
A normal occurrence. Jonathan Zuckerman
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A cicada emerging from its shell
Hi!!! JIM WATSON/Getty Images

Cicadas make wonderful use of their shells, using them to adorn plants:

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A Magicicada periodical cicada walks up a blade of grass as discarded exuvias are seen hanging on surrounding plants
Awesome. EVA HAMBACH/Getty Images
cicada shells on leaves in a tree
Beautiful! Will Oremus
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cicadas on a plant
Seems like an improvement. Will Oremus
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The shells of cicada nymphs are seen on leaves at night
After-hours. ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/Getty Images
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Cicadas can even subtly decorate your yard fixtures….

cicada shells on a fence
Good job, cicadas. Dan Kois
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….or help out with landscaping:

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cicadas on the ground
New mulch variety. Will Oremus
cicada shells around the base of a tree
Detail-oriented. Natalie Matthews-Ramo
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Yes, animals love cicadas:

a chicken eats a cicada
Yum! Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
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a squirrel holding a cicada
Wow. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
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Carpenter ants tear apart the carcass of a Magicicada periodical cicada
Ooooo. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Because the grand spectacle of this particular brood of these awe-inspiring creatures come but once every 17 years, we want to leave you with some cicadas shells for the road:

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a jar of cicada shells
For you. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
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