A cicada! Finally! I had been looking for them all summer.
Attached to the stucco, close to the ground, this little stud posed like he was meant to be on the cover of Insect World. I set up as quickly as possible, afraid he was going to fly off. Excitedly, I began shooting like a paparazzi, and when I saw that he was being so cool about it, I used every angle I could think of. My neighbors must've thought I was crazy lying on the ground, contorted on my side. Ah well, you know what they say: if people aren't talking about you, you're boring. :)
Suddenly, it dawned on me that something wasn't right. I took a stick, prodding the cicada, ready to duck if he flew at me. Clink. He fell to the walkway making a hollow plastic sound as he clattered to the ground. My cover model was a SHELL! Did I feel stupid or what? lol The animal kingdom continues to fascinate and awe me.
Cicadas live underground as nymphs for most of their lives at a depth between one and eight feet. In their final nymph stage they construct an exit tunnel to emerge in order to shed (molt) their skin on a nearby plant and become an adult. Their exuvia or abandoned exoskeleton remains, still clinging to the bark of trees; or in this case, stucco. Their life cycle is roughly 2-5 years. The mating/egg laying process is very damaging to trees. More fascinating information on cicadas can be found here. If you do click on the link scroll to the bottom to see a neat animated gif of them shedding their exoskeleton.
EDIT: TexWisGirl and Terri are correct! This is a cicada that did not complete the transition. After looking more closely, you can see part of the body trying to emerge, but it didn't make it. Still, I'm leaving the post because I think he is a beautiful specimen. Thanks for your keen observation, girls!
Linking to I Heart Macro and Macro Monday 2. Thank you, hosts!!