Share this photo on Twitter Share this photo on Facebook

Exuvium

Posted by
Spike (not Bristol, United Kingdom) on 7 July 2011 in Animal & Insect.

The cast-off exoskeleton of a field grasshopper nymph. Insects and other invertibrates grow by a process called ecdysis: they loosen their old skin (aka cuticle), pump themselves up until it pops open (in this case, along a seam that runs from the "nose" down the back), then work themselves out. Once free, they have a couple of hours to grow before the new skin hardens.

I'm a bit surprised these seem so rare, considering the number of little critturs in my garden. On the other hand, once they drop to the ground, they're almost impossible to spot. This one just happened to catch the light where I was looking.

There's a good chance we'll come back to this in the future...

Thanks for stopping to take a look.

daniela scharnowski from Berlin, Germany

now that was looking close! I only found some exuvias from spiders and once a dragonfly´s - but maybe they get eaten by others?

7 Jul 2011 9:56am

@daniela scharnowski: There was one from a spider not far from this one, but it was too tiny for a decent photo. I've seen a couple from the wolf spiders on my deck, but other than that, it's just been a few from aphids (like this one).

It's possible something eats them - good source of protein, after all - but I suspect every animal does something different.

Michael Fresh from Chester, United Kingdom

A truly Alien process, at least for humans. Very good close up shot.

7 Jul 2011 11:59pm

Laurie from Prescott, United States

Great shot and wonderful find. Would love to have such a garden!

8 Jul 2011 11:36am