Surrounded by Cicadas

Having achieved our main goal at Maussane-les-Alpilles, namely seeing the Carrières des Lumières show, it was time for a change of scenery. We’d wondered about returning to a municipal campsite at Loupian. However, that has now become an ACSI campsite so gets busy with deal-seeking Dutch campers.

Instead, we headed for a nearby Camping Aire Naturelle site which we discovered last year. It is pretty much halfway between Marseillan and Mèze, near the Bassin de Thau; we were still after some oysters. Both destinations are cyclable and both provide seafood.

levelling ramp exuviaeWhilst packing for the 140kms hop, we noticed Frodo had had a baby, presumably early in the morning. A Cicada (species unknown) had chosen to emerge on one of his levelling ramps. The exuvia was quite small so it’s not a species I’m familiar with.

Frodo at VillemarinOther than the fact that our Télépéage tag had stopped working – curious/irritating ‘cos I bought it only last year – forcing Francine to resume duties taking tickets and contorting to pay as we exited an autoroute, the journey went smoothly enough. We checked into Camping Villemarin at midday. Camping Aire Naturelle sites generally have larger pitches than regular sites and Frodo had plenty of space and some shade. There weren’t very many pitches taken.

tent exuviaeThe neighbouring pitch was taken, by a large tent. The large tent had a dozen or more cicada exuviae on it, larger ones this time from a species I knew. Some of the more recently emerged adults were still clinging on, drying off before their maiden flights. This, I think, is Cicada orni.

The following morning Frodo joined in the Cicada party. Outside, we had to be careful not to step on any recently surfaced Cicada nymphs tromping across the ground looking for a suitable support to climb up and metamorphose into an adult.

We had been in this situation way back in 2007 when, camping near Montagnac just a short distance from here, a campsite no longer there, we had been mesmerized by this Cicada spectacle. On that occasion, I was ill equipped with no camera support and an old film camera loaded with slow (50 ASA) slide film. Then we “rescued” a few Cicada nymphs onto our awning guy ropes, rigged up a “table-with-books support”, and managed to capture something of the process.

This time I was better equipped and once again pressed the guy ropes into service. A more natural setting would have been good but perhaps not as clear. The process takes 1-2hrs so the lighting changes but here’s a few parts of the sequence.

Cicada sequence (1 of 5)Cicada sequence (2 of 5)Cicada sequence (3 of 5)Cicada sequence (4 of 5)Cicada sequence (5 of 5)

Being in the right place at the right time is a wonderful thing. I’d been hoping for years that I’d get to witness this again.

Posted in 2023-06 France

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