This post may contain affiliate links. I may receive commissions for purchases made through links in this post at no cost to you.

Cicada shell art – a simple, decorative nature craft for kids.

Are there cicadas where you live in Summer? There are lots of them where we live. 

This article was originally published in 2013 when we had a BUMPER cicada season. Seven years later and we’re having another bumper season (it must be all the babies from seven years ago reaching maturity). It made me think of this craft activity, which has been on my list to update and republish for a long time. Now I’ve finally gotten around to it!

You might also like neon cicada shells

cicada shell art for kids

Summer is almost here, and in the Blue Mountains summer means cicadas – lots of them. This year everybody seems to be talking about the huge number of cicadas, and the noise of their singing as soon as you step out the door is deafening. If you’ve never heard a cicada they sound a bit like crickets but more shrill and loud, and they sing all day long instead of at night.  

As a kid, I have fond memories of collecting their shells and even collecting the insects themselves to keep in a margarine container with holes in it as a special “pet”. I stopped doing this when a teacher explained that Australian cicadas only have a week or two to live above the ground after spending 7 years as nymphs below the ground. 

This year my own girls have amassed an army of cicada shells, and we decided to give them a bit of a makeover.

cicada shells on trees

Cicada shells are not too hard to find, if they are sitting high up in the tree the girls knock them down with a stick. They always have a big hole in the back where the cicada has climbed out with its new set of wings.

Here is a Green Grocer cicada we found in our back yard recently. These ones are around 5cm long in body length but longer than that if you count their wings. It seems hard to believe they hatched out of the little shells we’ve found. 

green grocer cicada

My kids are not at all interested in the actual insects though, only the shells. They are obsessed with them.


Cicada shell art activity for kids

You will need

  • Cicada shells
  • Paint
  • Glue
  • Glitter glue (optional)
  • Glitter (optional)
  • Sequins (optional)
  • Soft watercolour brushes because the shells are very fragile

How to:

Set the items out over a covered table (this can get messy). Two of the girls’ friends came over with their own collection of shells to decorate, so there was no shortage of them.

supplies for cicada shell art

The kids all enjoyed the decorating, it kept them busy for ages.

cicada shell painting

Here they’ve been painted with glitter glue and then sprinkled with extra glitter (yep, we love glitter around here). They also painted them with PVA glue and then rolled them in a tub of glitter for an even more sparkly version.

glitter cicada shells

Here is what the kids created…

cicada shell art – colourfully painted and decorated cicada shells

cicada shell decorated with glitter glue and sequins

pink cicada shell

gliter-encrusted cicada shell

This is just a small example of the many, many lovely pieces of cicada shell art we created. Personally, I think they look better with a bit of glitz and glam and the big kid in me could not resist decorating a few myself.

decorated cicada shells

two cicada shells decorated with paint and glitter

Fascinating creatures, aren’t they? My hope is that encouraging an interest in insects reduces ‘bug fear’ which seems to increase as people get older. 

More nature craft ideas

cicada shell painting