Cicadas prepare for a historic double emergence

Apr 17, 2024


This spring marks an extraordinary occurrence in the natural world as two distinct cicada broods emerge simultaneously for the first time in over two centuries. Hannah Burrack, a leading entomologist at Michigan State University, explains the significance of this event spanning 17 states, including dual emergences in Indiana and Illinois. 

Cicadas are large, benign insects, recognizable by their triangular bodies and loud mating calls. They belong to a family with thousands of species, but it is the periodic cicadas with their 13 and 17-year cycles that capture widespread attention. These cicadas spend the majority of their life cycle underground, emerging en masse to reproduce, overwhelming potential predators with their sheer numbers. 

This year, the emergence of the Great Southern Brood (XIX) and the Northern Illinois Brood (XIII) offers a unique insight into cicada behavior and their impact on local ecosystems. While these insects are harmless to humans and pets, their presence can stress young trees and shrubs where females lay their eggs. Protective measures like garden cloths are advised for vulnerable plants. 

Cicadas will start to surface when the ground warms to just above 64 degrees, typically occurring in April and May. The best viewing opportunities are in forested areas with established tree growth. 

This synchronized emergence is not only a spectacle but also an important moment for ecological and educational exploration, highlighting the resilience and complexity of these fascinating insects.

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