Subject: Dusty wanderer
Geographic location of the bug: Taiwan (mountains)
Time: 11:24 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: This grandpa stumbled into our room one July night. Looks like he has crab-like pincers. About 6 cm long. He is covered in a kind of bug-dandruff. What is he, and what is with the crusty covering? Bad hygiene? Parasites?
How you want your letter signed: Luuk
This is a Cicada nymph. Immature Cicadas live underground for several years (up to 17 in the case of the North American Periodical Cicada) where they feed from roots. As they near maturity, they dig to the surface and molt for the final time, emerging as winged adult Cicadas. The crusty covering is dried dirt that will be shed during molting.
Thank you so much! You were, of course, totally right. I found an empty husk and a dazed, brand new cicada sitting on my table this morning. Too bad I missed the molting and did not see him emerge. Insects are amazing and wonderful!
Luuk from Taiwan