Cicadas in Illinois, 13 or 17 Year “Locust”? — this page features a brood map of Illinois that shows you the general area where they’ll appear.
Genera of cicadas.
March 3, 2007
March 1, 2007
CicadaMobile hits the road, and article in the Daily Herald by Mike Zawislak. The Lake County Forest Preserve District has hired a cicada expert to travel around, educating people about cicadas. Awesome.
Starting April 16, the forest preserve district’s Cicada Mobile will be motoring to schools, festivals, farmers markets and other community gatherings through July. The program is free.
Thanks to Roy Troutman for passing this along.
February 4, 2007
An interesting article sent to us by Roy Troutman: Periodic Cicadas Help Scientists Study Superfast Muscle.
for scientists at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), the periodic cicada also offer clues about how high-speed and high- performance muscles work, and how this knowledge might someday make human muscle work better.
January 15, 2007
1996 was the year I started this site, and the year I discovered the 17-year cicada. This is my cicada diary from 1996:
- Sunday, May 19th: Metuchen, New Jersey; I found the first desiccated cicada nymph exoskeleton on my patio. My cat disappears.
- Tuesday, May 21st: I found about 40 nymph exoskeletons on my patio, a pine tree and a maple tree. I also spotted an adult climbing the maple and two crippled adults rolling about the base of the tree.
- Wednesday, May 22nd: Bonanza! I found about 500 adults perched on just about everything in my yard: trees, patio furniture, the foundation of my home, the garden hose, garbage cans, the missing cat’s water dish, my hair…just plain everywhere! Gruesome!
- Saturday, May 25th: Avenel, New Jersey; Party at the Ritzow’s. Literally hundreds of adult cicadas perched high above in oak trees sneer at decadent humans sipping martini’s, playing croquet. Bourgeois homosapiens…bah humbug!
- Thursday, May 30th: Metuchen, New Jersey; Still no sign of the cat. Sitting outside on my patio around 8:30pm I hear a “snap”, “crackle” and “popping” sound. Rice Crispies? No. More like cicadas nymphs crawling out of their holes and on to my garden wall to molt into adult hood. Not the loveliest sight.
- Saturday, June 1st: Westfield, New Jersey; Dave Wilson and Claire Adas’ wedding. A beautiful ceremony and reception, with the exception of the 9000 uninvited cicadas: crawling up peoples legs, crunching underfoot, landing in refreshments…a moment to cherish and remember!
- Tuesday, June 4th: North Edison, New Jersey; The cicadas have begun to sing! All together they sound like a Boeing 767 is circling 40 feet overhead. The sound is that awesome. 10 inch deep piles of dying post coitus adults litter the base of trees. The invasion has only begun!
- Wednesday, June 5th – Monday, June 17th: Metuchen, North Edison, Colonia, Avenel, New Jersey; The invasion is in full effect! Home owners in North Edison and Colonia report having to haul away the dying bodies of cicadas in wheelbarrows! Residents describe the cicadas’ combined mating screams as “loud as a UFO” [how do they know what a UFO sounds like?] and “like a Mack Truck was floating ten foot above your head”! Someone even told me cicadas taste like shrimp! I guess they made the best of a bad situation.
- Wednesday, June 26th: Metuchen, New Jersey; It appears the invasion is over. All that remains is the dismembered, rotting corpses and the memories, sweet, sweet, memories. But remember, They’ll be back…in the year 2013!
- Saturday, August 3rd: Metuchen, New Jersey; Looking out my second story window I can clearly see the damage done by the 17-year cicadas. Brown patches of dead leaves speckle local oak and maple trees, revealing the branches where the female cicada has chosen to lay her eggs; an interesting “natural disaster”, but, not as heart-breaking as an earth quake or a flood. Clearly the most provocative news regarding cicadas is the current hatch of annual cicadas, which are larger than the “17-year” cicadas (thoroughly illustrated within this web page) and greener. Another dissimilarity is the difference in their respective mating calls: while the “17-year” cicada makes a whirring sound somewhere between the motor of a vacuum cleaner and a car alarm, the “annual” cicada sounds more like a lawn sprinkler or maybe a sewing machine. Although I can clearly hear hundreds of “annual” cicadas and I have found their shells, I haven’t visually located a single one ! Another cicada related event has been the recent hatch of “cicada killer” wasps. These two-inch long giant wasps only prey upon, our friend, the defenseless cicada. I haven’t located these creatures either, but, they are definitely out there. Cicadas beware!
- Wednesday, August 26th: Metuchen, New Jersey; the Tibicen cicadas continue to sing…
- Wednesday, November 6th: Metuchen, New Jersey; they are all dead or sucking on roots underground.
This is from my site, back in 1996. I’m just cutting and pasting it in — I’m scared to read it again.
Humor: The 17-Year Cicada
Every 17 years a fearsome biological monstrosity drags its way to the surface of the earth. It comes only to mate and spawn; however, it imparts terror and disgust in the hearts and minds of every man, woman, child and beast unfortunate enough to cross its path. This is no Hollywood fantasy, ladies and gentlemen, this creature is real, horribly real! Cast your trembling eyes upon mother nature’s most disturbing insectoid aberration…
The Cicada a.k.a. “The 17-Year Locust”
Seriously folks, the cicada isn’t a locust, it’s, well, a cicada (a member of the homoptera order of insects). These charming creatures are best known for their intense mating call, which sounds more or less like a lawn sprinkler, or a miniature AH-64 Apache Black Helicopter. When 10,000 or so of these suckers start screaming in your neighborhood you’ll think you’re in the middle of Apocalypse Now. Now is the time! Depending on where you live, these heinous herbivores should be dive-bombing your friends and family any day now. RootsuckerActually, they are more likely to fall out of a tree than fly, but, rest assured, they will be landing somewhere on your body sometime soon.
I live in central New Jersey and right now we are up to our mandibles in a plague of these sap slurping oddities. Some breeds, including the green/yellow striped cicadas, rear their ugly heads every year, but, fortunately not in great numbers. The “periodic”, black bodied, red eyed, spawn of Beelzebub cicadas only present themselves once every 17 years; unfortunately there are literally millions of them. Worst of all, they have a face, just like you or me!
Periodic cicadas live to be 17 years old (13 years in southern states), which means they’re the only insect that qualifies for a driver’s license in New Jersey. Actually these creatures only spend two to four weeks of their lives as an adult. They spend the first 17 years underground sucking on roots! Exciting! Once the adults have mated, the female drills a hole in a tree branch with her butt (technically her ovipositor) and lays her eggs. The eggs soon hatch and the “nymphs” fall to the ground where they feed on root sap. As soon as the adults mate they croak and drop to the ground where they will decay and stink. If I were you I wouldn’t hang out under any trees this year. In the end, your best offense will be a shovel and a bucket, or, a hungry golden retriever.
January 11, 2007
Michelle Thompson took this picture of a cicada on the trunk of her oak tree in Willoughby in Sydney Australia. It’s a Floury Baker aka Aleeta curvicosta.
December 24, 2006
George Dalidakis emailed us this fantastic series of a Green Grocer cicadas (Cyclochila australasiae) emerging from its nymph exoskeleton (molting).
December 5, 2006
Gene Kritsky is one of the foremost and most accessible cicada researchers in North America. His excellent book In Ohio’s Backyard–Periodical Cicadas is a Cicada Mania favorite. Gene’s new book Periodical Cicadas: The Plague and the Puzzle is due out any day now. You should also visit Gene’s web site. Gene was kind enough to answer some of our questions — we hope you enjoy them:
Cicada Mania: There are a mind-boggling variety of insects in the world — why did you choose to focus your studies on cicadas?
Gene Kritsky: I am a student of history. I was first introduced to periodical cicadas by Frank N. Young at Indiana University. I immediately felt that there must be a wealth of information about periodical cicadas that had been overlooked through the years. It was mining that information, coupled with studying their biology that started it all for me.
CM: You have a new book titled Periodical Cicadas: The Plague and the Puzzle "emerging" in books stores soon. How does it differ from your previous cicada book In Ohio’s Backyard–Periodical Cicadas?
GK: The Plague and the Puzzle has a greater focus on history. It includes a long-lost manuscript written in 1716, the first stand-alone published work on periodical cicadas, a terminology timeline, and a review of what has happened in the past 104 years including, including new findings from my lab. In Ohio’s Backyard is a field guide for people wanting to experience the periodical cicadas. It contains activities for teachers and parents to help kids to better appreciate these insects.
CM: What makes Magicicada Brood X different from other emergences?
GK: Brood X is the largest of the 17-year broods. It has a long history going back to 1715. For me personally, I first studied Brood X in 1987 when it emerged in Cincinnati. It gave me the opportunity to set up some experiments that will finally come to completion. It is, therefore, like an old friend coming back to visit.
CM: Will all three 17-year Magicicada species (septendecim, cassini, &
septendecula) emerge this year?
GK: Yes, we are expecting all three species this year.
CM: Have you ever observed animosity between cicadas of different species? What cicada qualities make a male Magicicada more likely to find a mate? Does the guy with the loudest call, have the best chance of passing on his genes?
GK: I have not noticed animosity between the species, but have seen males of the same species compete for females by overlapping their calls. But we must be careful not to give the periodical cicadas human emotions. I think they are simply responding to a genetic cue, and doing what they do best. That being singing, matings, laying eggs, and dying.
CM: Do you think the mayor of Cincinnati should consider replacing the Flying Pig monuments with Cicada monuments?
GK: It is interesting that we have the same mayor this year as we did in 1987. This time, however, the city is getting into the emergence with a greater sense of fun. We are going to have a CD of cicada songs, cicada-free zones, cicada parties, cicada exhibits, t-shirts, jewelry, etc.
CM: Cincinnati is known for its chili restaurants. Know any good cicada chili recipes?
GK: I have not had them in chili, but they should be a nice addition. I personally like them battered and fried with a nice hot mustard sauce.
Periodical Cicadas: the Plague and the Puzzle:
In Ohio’s Backyard: Periodical Cicadas:
The most frequently asked question we get is "will cicadas spoil my outdoor wedding"? I guess Al Roker gets the " will it rain on my wedding day" questions? Seriously, most people consider their wedding day the most important day of their life — no wonder they want it to be perfect. I’m no Jennifer
Lopez, but I’ll try to help you plan around these potential wedding crashers.
Magicicada typically emerge sometime in early May and have expired by the last week of June. When they emerge depends on where you live. Typically, cicadas in northern states emerge later than those in southern states, but you can pretty much count on them being around in May and June. Try the cicada emergence formula to try to estimate when they will emerge in your area.
You can use the chart on our Frequently Asked Questions page to see if Magicicadas are emerging in your state in the year of your wedding.
There are two things you need to consider: 1) your state and city, and 2) the actual location where the wedding will be held.
Your state and city:
First check the cicada maps!
- Step 1: Find an actual map of your state and town – you can use Mapquest.
- Step 2: Find a corresponding cicada brood map. A brood map will tell you where the cicadas will appear in a given year. We have most of the brood maps here.
- Step 3) compare the brood map with the real map. If the areas match, cicadas may be an issue.
The actual location where the wedding will be held:
The good news is Magicicadas don’t emerge in every yard and every neighborhood. You have to do some research:
- Ask the property owners what the last emergence was like. If they weren’t around, knock on a few doors, or go to the library and check the town newspaper. Obviously, if the last emergence was heavy, cicadas may be an issue.
- Does the property have no trees, some trees, or is it like a forest? Cicadas love trees, especially deciduous trees (like oaks, maples) and fruit trees. If there are plenty of trees in the yard or the surrounding yards, cicadas may be an issue.
- Consider renting a hall. Sure, grandma’s yard is pretty,
but nothing beats peace of mind — and it might rain anyway.
- If you’re set on having an outdoor wedding rent a big tent. Definitely, have a tent for the ceremony and guests. Remember, it has to fit the band as well. You might also consider renting a second tent for the food area.
- Music. Cicadas are loud, and you will hear them, but good PA systems (like those DJs use), and bands are louder. A small stereo might not be loud enough.
- The food. Don’t bring it out until it’s time to eat, and keep it covered. Your caterer should have some ideas as well — like serve the food inside the house, or under a tent. Cicadas have no interest in human food, but one might fall out of a tree and into the potato salad.
- Educate your guests: Let them know that cicadas don’t sting like bees. Let them know they’ll be around for the length of the party.
- Clean up: Cicadas leave skins behind — you may have to clean up before the wedding. A shop vac works fine.
- Make a game of it. Kids love bugs: have some containers around for the kids to collect the cicadas in. It’s something they’ll never forget.
- Bring your sense of humor, and relax. Like rain, there’s not much you can do about it. If the property is full of cicadas, get set for some hilarious pictures.
- Bagpipes are effective at drowning out cicadas.
- Don’t Use pesticide. You’ll only stink up the yard, and make the guests sick. Plus, cicadas are flyers — the cicadas from the neighbor’s yard will fly right into yours.
- Don’t Panic. They’re only bugs, and while they look fearsome and have hard body parts, they don’t bite and sting like bees and flies do.
What you can expect
- The bodies of dead cicadas littering the ground.
- The constant hum of cicada song.
- An occasional cicada landing on a guest. Guests screaming.
- An occasional cicada crawling on a table, chair, barbecue.
I speak from personal experience. In 1996 friends of mine had an outdoor wedding in the midst of a cicada emergence. The yard was filled with tall oak trees (which cicadas love) — and plenty of cicadas as well. Cicada shells littered the ground near the base of trees. You could hear the cicadas hum the whole time, but they didn’t drown out the music (a classic quartet, and a DJ later on). An occasional cicada landed on a guest, and you could see a few crawling on lawn chairs, but everyone seemed to take it in stride and the kids loved them. The cicadas only made the event even more memorable.
On the other hand, my sister thinks the cicadas “pretty much destroyed the wedding”, so maybe you should rent a hall after all.
Lastly, here’s some scenes from a cicada infested wedding I attended in 1996:
November 17, 2006
Here’s some nostalgia for you: Brood X photos from Burke, VA, June 2004, taken by Melanie Chang.
Click the images for a larger version.