Grab your earplugs! For the first time in over two centuries, two broods of periodical cicadas will emerge simultaneously across parts of Illinois.

What the Heck is a Periodical Brood Cicada?

A periodical brood cicada is a winged insect with a recurring, years-long life cycle. They have six legs and two pairs of wings.

Why Are Cicadas So Noisy?

If you have ever wondered why the trees seem to sound like they are screaming in the spring, the answer is cicadas. When they emerge, it is just the males that make that "screaming" sound. Although, it isn't actually screaming. That sound is produced when male cicadas vibrate membranes on the sides of their bodies known as tymbals. As the membranes vibrate, that vibration then resonates through the chambers of the insects' trachea creating their infamous scream song.

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Males cluster in groups and produce loud choruses to attract females to mate with. After mating, female cicadas excavate furrows in slender tree branches and deposit their eggs. The larvae hatch, drop to the ground, and burrow beneath the soil again. - National Wildlife Federation
Photo by Sagar Vasnani on Unsplash

Why Do They Emerge in Such Large Numbers?

When they do emerge, why are there just so darn many of them? As it turns out, it's an evolutionary adaptation to ensure the survival of the species. The National Parks Service explains that it allows predators to eat while leaving enough cicadas alive to reproduce, carrying on the life cycle.

By coming out in huge numbers, all the predators that eat cicadas can get their fill and there will still be plenty of cicadas left to breed and perpetuate the species. It’s a survival strategy call prey satiation. There are more cicadas than all the combined predators can eat. - NPS

How Many Different Cicada Broods Are There?

Periodical Cicadas call the Midwest and Eastern parts of the United States home. There are 15 periodical broods - twelve broods are 17-year cicadas and three broods are 13-year cicadas.


What Do Cicadas Do Between Emergences?

In between emergences, periodical cicadas spend their time in their larval state. It is in this stage of their life cycle that they are burrowed into the ground awaiting their time to emerge and shed their final molt.

An Ultra-Rare Emergence is Coming to Illinois

Spring 2024 will bring with it an ultra-rare occurrence. For the first time in 221 years, Brood XIII and Brood XIX will emerge simultaneously across parts of the country, including Illinois. The last time Brood XIII and Brood XIX emerged together it was 1803, according to Cicadia Mania.

Photo by Ashlee Marie on Unsplash

More on Brood XIII

Brood XIII (13) is a 17-year cicada that includes three different species. They are found in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

More on Brood XIX

Brood XIX (19) is a 13-year cicada and is found in a number of states including Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and more. Sometimes known as "the Great Southern Brood," there are four different species in Brood XIX.

Where to Experience Both Brood Emergences Simultaneously in the Same Location

There is one place in Illinois where both Brood XIX and Brood XII are expected to overlap and emerge at the exact same time. If you want to experience this, you'll want to head to the state's capitol of Springfield., according to Cicadia Mania.

Photo by Ashlee Marie on Unsplash


Is There Anything I Should Change in Preparation for the Emergence?

With so many cicadas expected in spring, you may want to rethink your plans if they involve planting trees. Because female cicadas lay eggs in young tree branches, newly planted trees may not survive. The National Parks Service recommends either planting trees in the fall this year, or covering young, newly planted trees in protective netting to prohibit access to the cicadas.

The massive number of periodical cicadas emerging can harm young trees because the females lay their eggs in young tree branches... Fall is a good time to plant trees this year or spring plantings can be protected with netting. - NPS

Next Co-Emergence

The next cicada brood co-emergence will take place in 2037. It is then that Brood XIX and Brood IX will emerge simultaneously.

Random Cicada Information You Didn't (Know You) Need

The National Wildlife Federation says that people who have eaten periodical cicadas say they "taste similar to canned asparagus." However, if you happen to have an allergy to shrimp or lobster, you might be allergic to cicadas as well.

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