When will the cicadas emerge? Chicago, Northern Illinois will see billions of noise-making bugs soon

IL will have rare double brood emergence of cicadas

ByLarry Mowry and Blanca Rios WLS logo
Wednesday, April 24, 2024
The cicada invasion is coming; what to expect, from timing to noise
Where do cicadas come from and when is the invasion going to start? What you need to know about the Illinois 2024 double brood emergence.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The cicadas are coming; billions of them.

"The noise is actually kind of deafening. It sounds like 100 chainsaws being used at the same time," said Jim Louderman, a collections assistant in the Field Museum's Insect Division.

Illinois will have a double brood emergence of periodical cicadas, expected on or around May 15.

"This year is really, really important because for the first time in 221 years, both the 13- and the 17-year cicadas will both emerge in Illinois at the same time and there will be a small cross over area north of Champaign and Springfield," Louderman said.

WATCH: The 2024 Cicada-cast

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The southern half of the country will see the 13-year brood while the northern half of the country will be treated to the 17-year brood. Chicago does not fall in the overlap, but people should be prepared for a repeat of what happened in 2007.

"So when they really start dying off, the streets and sidewalks are literally paved with cicadas, it's just billions and billions and billions of them," Louderman said.

The Field Museum has a collection of insects and cicadas dating back to at least 1893. And yet, the little winged bugs are still a mystery to scientists.

READ MORE: What to know about cicadas before the 2024 invasion begins

"It seems to be an evolutionary advantage that they come out in such big numbers, that even if they have predators or if something happens and, you know, most of them don't get to mate and lay eggs, it's not going to really hurt the population because there's going to be so many of them," said Maureen Turcatel, a taxonomist and collection manager at the Field Museum.

Despite the unknowns surrounding cicadas, here's what scientists do know.

"The adult cicadas lay the eggs in tree branches or sticks in the tops of trees. About 10 days later, the babies, the eggs hatch and the nymphs or babies, then drop out of the trees down to the ground," explained Louderman. "They then dig down into the ground, attach themselves to the roots and suck nutrients out of the trees for the next 17 years."

"They emerge over about a three to four week span and then 10 days after that, they're pretty much gone," said Louderman.

There's been a lot of buzz about the milder weather calling them out sooner than May 15, but Louderman and Turcatel beg to differ.

"It shouldn't have a huge impact because you gotta remember they've been down there for 17 years. It's not something that the last couple months should really effect very much," said Lauderman. "It really seems to be a timing thing. Possibly the position of the earth and the moon and sun. We don't know."

Despite their best predictions, there's been some early sightings. ABC7 Meteorologist Tracy Butler's husband discovered some cicada holes in their backyard.

"Those are all cicada larva tracks and emergence holes," said Jennifer Brennan, Horticulture Information Specialist at Chalet Nursery. "So sad for them. You get to the party too early and die in the cold night without a mate."

It's the males that make all that noise. They rattle their drum-like tymbals against their abdomens to call their female mate after crawling up into a tree.

"They shed their skin, spread their wings, dry, color up, fly up into the trees, the male start calling the females and they mate, the females lay their eggs and the process starts all over again," said Lauderman.

Like it or not, the numerous but harmless bugs are coming to a tree near you.

"We can't stop it. It's actually kind of cool," Lauderman said. "it's kind of like a symphony blending the sounds of all the different cicadas."