Two brood cicadas will emerge in 2024 in the Midwest and South

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When cicadas emerge from the ground, one of the first tasks is to shed their exoskeletons, leaving behind skin or insect shells when they become adults.

Cicada Safari

Are you ready for the ‘Cicadapocalypse’?

For the first time in 221 years, more than a billion two-period cicada brood will surface this spring. The last time this occurred was in 1803, when Thomas Jefferson was president and busy finalizing the Louisiana Purchase.

The largest periodic brood that will swarm, crawl and chirp this spring is Brood XIX, which emerges every 13 years throughout the southeastern United States, including Missouri, central and southern Illinois, Louisiana, North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland.

Brood XIII, which emerges every 17 years, is based in the northern half of Illinois and parts of Wisconsin, Ohio and Iowa.

Together, they will deliver a supercharged invasion of alien bugs with a pronounced, immersive sound, in some cases equivalent to the decibels of a motorcycle engine.

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There are cicadas that come to the surface annually, but periodical cicadas spend most of their lives underground. They dig when the ground temperature reaches 64 degrees to mate and lay eggs, marking the beginning of a new generation of that particular brood.


Once in the world, adult cicadas shed their nymph skin. The skin splits and the cicada comes out: first headfirst and then on its back. Once they release their abdomen, they are white. It takes about an hour and a half for the cicadas to transform into black ones with red eyes.

Dr. Gene Kritsky, a cicada expert and professor emeritus of biology at Mount St. Joseph University in Ohio, said that despite all his years studying periodical cicadas, the insect’s ability for this synchronized digging remains a mystery.

How does a particular calf know when it is time to come out of the underground to mate?

“It has to be some kind of internal clock,” Kritsky said. “We know that they are able to detect the flow of fluid from the roots to the leaves in the spring (to determine if another year has passed). One of the great biological mysteries is: How do they remember what year it is?

Cicadas shed their skin four times during their life underground, which can help them keep track of the years, he added.

Kritsky is behind the mobile application, Cicada Safaria powerful crowdsourcing tool that was first tested in 2019. The app allows anyone with a cell phone to become a citizen scientist during the emergency.

Users can submit videos and photos of periodic cicadas to the app. Once verified, they will be added to an online map. The app greatly helps Kritsky in his investigation.


The Cicada Safari mobile phone app was created by Dr. Gene Kritsky and Mount St. Joseph University. He A powerful crowdsourcing tool, first tested in 2019, allows anyone with a cell phone to become a citizen scientist during the surge.

Cicada Safari

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Here’s what you need to know about periodical cicadas as they emerge this spring:


Periodical cicadas spend most of their lives underground, digging up every 13 to 17 years when the ground temperature reaches 64 degrees to mate and lay eggs, marking the beginning of a new generation of that particular brood.

Cicada Safari

  • The big reveal will likely occur sometime in May and will last several weeks.

  • During this time, male cicadas will produce a rather loud mating call to attract females. They achieve this with “sound-producing structures” called tympani on each side of the abdomen, according to

  • Some will become victims of predators, but the sheer number of cicadas makes it almost impossible to wipe out an entire brood.

  • The females will die shortly after laying their eggs. The males die shortly after mating.
  • The male’s mating call can reach 100 decibels, almost the equivalent of a chainsaw or motorcycle. According to the CDC, news reports that highlight those strong comparisons alone can mislead people. believing the common myth that cicadas easily cause permanent hearing damage. The CDC says the duration and distance of exposure also matter.

  • Adult cicadas do not bite or sting humans, nor do they transmit diseases. They can damage young trees during the egg-laying process, so families with young trees should wrap the branches loosely with cheesecloth to prevent females from laying their eggs there.

  • Periodic cicada years are “quite beneficial” to the region’s ecology, according to The emergency tunnels act as a natural aeration of the soil, and the large volume of cicadas makes good food for all types of predators, which has a positive impact on animal populations. “Females laying eggs on trees is a natural pruning of trees that results in the tree producing more flowers and fruits the following year. Finally, after cicadas die, their decomposing bodies contribute an enormous amount of nitrogen and other nutrients to the soil,” according to

  • Periodical cicadas were first recorded by Pilgrims in Plymouth Colony in 1634, but were known to Native Americans centuries before European contact.

  • Is your stomach growling? If you’re feeling adventurous, you should know that cicadas are safe to eat—for most people! You can even find recipes online for cicada tempura with sriracha aioli, cicada cocktails, and a spicy popcorn cicada recipe. It is best to eat them when they are still young. They taste like “cold canned asparagus,” according to Because of their similarities to crustaceans, people with shellfish allergies may want to avoid them altogether.


Cicadas are harmless to older flowers, shrubs, and mature trees, but tender, young trees can be damaged when female cicadas lay their eggs on branches.

Cicada Safari

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