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How To Determine Gender of Nymph Skins

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How To Determine Gender of Nymph Skins

Female cast off nymphal shell

Have a look at the picture to the left. See that brown thing? That is a cast off nymphal skin (exuvium) of a Tibicen lyricen cicada. Pretty cool huh? Ever wonder what the sex of something like that is? Well, just recently I learned the trick to determine which gender of cicada left the nymphal skin behind, a girl cicada or a boy cicada.

To be honest, I could never figure it out until recently. And in the spirit of what this web site is about and I quote:

I'm going to try to learn something and to let others know what I learn by taking careful field notes and documenting everything that I see as it pertains to Cicadas in Massachusetts. Who knows? Maybe we can learn something together.

Determining Boy Cicadas

Male cicada cast off nymph skin.A cicada exuvium's abdomen is divided into sections or sternites. There are 9 total sternites on cicada nymph skins. At the very tip (9th sternite) you can make out a "bulbous" structure. This nymph skin contained a male cicada.

Determining Girl Cicadas

Female cicada cast-off nymph skin.Girl cicadas also have this "bulbous" structure at the 9th sternite. But unlike males, females have two cylindrical-type structures at the 8th sternite. These structures are also known as "processes". Between you and me I'd tell you what they REALLY look like but this is a family site. Compare the two, I'm sure you can clearly see the difference now.

Special Note: Thanks to Roy Troutman for the use of his images and for taking the time to share this with me. Visit Roy Troutman's Cicadas on Cicadamania.

Date Posted: 2005-08-17 Comments: (2) Show CommentsHide Comments


Posted By: Jennifer | On: 2014-08-24 | Website:

Very Kewl!! I am going to look for these on my daily outings! Thank you!!

Posted By: Maria Aliberti Lubertazzi | On: 2017-08-31 | Website:

PLEASE give us a species list for Mass! Have NO IDEA how many species could be around here...

(a key would be great too, especially if it were for exuviae!)


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