Field Museum explains loud noise of cicada calls amid Illinois emergence

There are 2 kinds of broods making their debut in Illinois right now

Mark Rivera Image
Wednesday, May 15, 2024
Field Museum explains loud cicada noise amid emergence
Wondering why cicada noises are so loud? The Field Museum explained the science behind cicada calls amid the Chicago-area emergence in Illinois.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago area is bracing for the cicada invasion. The peak is expected this week.

The 17-year-cicadas will emerge from their underground homes with an explosion of life and sound in the Chicago area and across the state.

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The Field Museum gave ABC7 an inside look and a deep dive into cacophonous calls of cicadas.

FULL COVERAGE | ABC7 Chicago Cicada-Cast 2024 breaks down latest on Illinois emergence

"Only the males sing, and the females, they recognize the specific song of their own species, so they know how to find the males of their own species," said Dr. Maureen Turcatel, Field Museum Insects Collection Manager.

Blame the noise on the men. Dr. Turcatel says to be ready, because billions, or even trillions, of bugs are coming our way, emerging from their longtime lodgings underground this week. The 17-year and 13-year cicada broods are overlapping in some areas downstate.

"Some places are just going to be covered with them," Dr. Turcatel said. "There's no way to avoid them. You're going to be stepping on them. Some people say they have to use snow shovels to take care of their sidewalks."

At the Field's science lab, Dr. Turcatel and others are holding info sessions to teach people of all ages about the insects as more start to appear in the coming weeks. One of the learners is 7-year-old Lyla Hamblet, who might consider becoming an eager entomologist herself.

"They only come out every 17 years," Hamblet said. "I'm gonna take a magnifying glass [and look at them]."

The Field Museum is also giving out earplugs so people can go out into their back yards and look at their own cicadas without damaging their ears.

Over the next month, people can even learn how to add to a burgeoning bug collection at home, like the one Aysha Lewis started with her mother years ago.

"I have a little baby brother, so I want to create something new with him," Lewis said.