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Summertime Chi’s Cicadas are Here! 

As the heat rises, an age-old chorus begins to buzz and tick from the trees, signaling the return of one of nature’s most patient insects: cicadas. These bugs, often unseen but always heard, spend years in silent preparation underground only to emerge for a few weeks in the summertime. We have all heard them, but what are cicadas? What drives their rhythmic cycles and how do they manage to synchronize their massive, periodic appearances with such precision?

Cicadas are a part of the superfamily Cicadoidea and there are more than 3,000 different species, with almost 200 here in North America. The general idea of these insects is that they only emerge after a certain number of years. However, here in Chicago, cicadas can typically be heard every summer. Why is that?

Cicadas can be classified into two different broods, annual and periodical. Annual cicadas have a life cycle of two to three years, and they emerge every year. Periodical cicadas, however, can either have a life cycle of 13 or 17 years, and they spend the majority of their life underground. After either 13 or 17 years, they come out in large numbers, shed their skin, mate, lay eggs, and eventually, die off about four weeks later.

Periodical cicadas were first seen in the Chicagoland area in 2007 and both broods have been a part of Illinois’s history for many years. It is now 2024, and it is the first time in over 200 years that the two will emerge together, leaving many nature lovers very excited and this Midwestern summer expected to overflow with bugs.

According to NBC News, the Chicago area and northern parts of Illinois have already begun to report numbers that are much greater than in other areas. With both broods emerging this year, one or the other will be present all around Illinois. It is possible that in central Illinois, there could be some overlap resulting in the presence of both 13 and 17-year broods emerging in the same place in the future.

Although you can almost surely expect to experience cicadas this summer, there is not much to worry about. These bugs do not bite or sting, and if they did, they are not poisonous. They serve as a food source for other animals and do not have a huge impact on plant life, but sometimes with young, small, or fragile plants, the laying of eggs can cause tree branches to die off prematurely. And when they die, their bodies help the environment. The biggest issues most will have are with the nuisances of these bugs.

An Illinois TikTok content creator by the name of Kristen posted a video of her and her family trying to walk her dog, “but [they] can’t there are cicadas everywhere” she states nervously in the video. Kristen can be seen stuttering and squealing about the bugs and goes on to show her followers a daunting number of cicada shells and bodies on bushes, tree trunks, and even covering the sidewalk. Other content creators such as Demond Hammock have documented the sheer number of holes that can be found in his backyard on account of cicada emergence and their shells scattered around the yard and on his furniture.

With so many cicadas predicted to emerge in Illinois this season, it’s important to keep in mind that even though they are loud, may cause minimal damage to plants, and can simply just be unconventional, Cicadas are not dangerous, will not cause too many issues, are good for the environment, and are an example of one of Nature’s most interesting phenomenons.

 

True Star Staff

 

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Written by TrueStar Staff

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