United States

Cicada Emergence In Chicago Area Shows Early Signs, Experts Say Real Peak Yet To Come

Experts reassure that despite some early signs of cicada emergence in the Chicago area, the anticipated peak is yet to come. Cicadas are expected to surface when soil temperatures reach 64°F, with warmer spots likely experiencing quicker emergence.

Trillions of cicadas are about to emerge in numbers not seen in decades and possibly centuries. Photo: AP

While cicadas have begun to emerge in some parts of the United States in significant numbers, residents in the Chicago area are experiencing a mix of early signs of emergence and relative quietness, leaving many to wonder if the anticipated cicada invasion will be as severe as predicted.

According to experts, the true cicada peak is yet to arrive, and a crucial environmental factor must be met before the cacophony of buzzing begins.

Jennifer Rydzewski, an ecologist with the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, explained to NBC Chicago that the periodical cicadas begin their emergence when the soil temperature eight inches below the ground reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit.

Recent observations in the Chicago area have shown early signs of emergence, with cicada shells spotted clinging to fences and trees. Rydzewski suggested that the warmer temperatures, possibly due to heat radiation from nearby construction areas, have prompted these initial emergences. She anticipates stronger emergences in various locations within the coming days.

Despite these sightings, the anticipated swarms and deafening sounds have yet to materialize across much of the region. Reports indicate that the emergence has commenced about two weeks earlier than the historic average, albeit sporadically due to varying soil temperatures and environmental conditions.

Experts from the Insect Asylum predict that the peak emergence will likely occur in mid-May for the Chicago area. They emphasize that besides soil temperature, humidity levels also play a significant role in the emergence process.

Once emerged, cicadas typically begin mating, producing the distinctive noise associated with their presence. Experts note that it takes approximately a week from emergence before mating activities commence. With a lifespan of around four weeks, the emergence is expected to last through at least mid-June.

The 2024 emergence is significant as it witnesses two broods of cicadas emerging simultaneously for the first time in over two centuries. Brood XIII and Brood XIX, covering large geographic areas, are expected to create a remarkable spectacle across multiple states.

Dr. Gene Kritsky, from Mount St. Joseph University, highlights the massive size of Brood XIII, particularly in northern Illinois and Indiana. Meanwhile, Brood XIX, known as the Great Southern Brood, has a more widespread population covering parts of several states, including Illinois.

Notably, certain areas in Central Illinois, particularly around Springfield, may witness an overlap of both broods, potentially leading to interbreeding—an event researchers find particularly exciting.