A Guide to the 2024 Cicada Invasion

In anticipation of the upcoming cicada invasion, one might wonder when these buzzing creatures will make their grand entrance and how to prepare for their impact on landscaping. Here’s a condensed guide of what to expect and how to care for your plants during this fascinating event.

When can we expect the periodical cicadas to emerge in the Chicagoland area this year?

The periodical cicadas are predicted to emerge between May 15 and 30, lingering until June, contingent upon weather conditions. The warm winter may hasten their emergence. Typically, they emerge when the soil temperature at 8 inches deep reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit.

Where will we find the most cicadas?

The highest concentrations of cicadas will be in areas bordering woodlands and in older neighborhoods. Research suggests that up to 1.5 million cicadas may emerge in woodland areas.

Will we still see annual cicadas this summer?

Yes, annual cicadas, also known as “dog-day cicadas,” are a different species and will emerge during their usual period from July to September.

How do periodical cicadas differ from annual cicadas?

Periodical cicadas are black with orange wing veins and red eyes, measuring about ¾ to 1¼ inches. Annual cicadas are green with black eyes, larger at approximately 1 to 2 inches. Annual cicadas have a two- to five-year life cycle, unlike periodical cicadas, which emerge every 13 or 17 years.

Why is this emergence unique?

This year is special because both Brood XIII (17-year cicadas) and Brood XIX (13-year cicadas) are emerging simultaneously, a phenomenon not seen since 1803.

Where can we observe the different broods?

Broods represent regional areas where cicadas emerge. Northern Illinois, including Chicago, is part of Brood XIII’s territory, which also extends into Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana, and Michigan. Southern Illinois hosts Brood XIX.

What’s the life cycle of a periodical cicada?

Periodical cicadas spend most of their lives underground, feeding on plant roots. They emerge synchronously, climb vertical structures to molt into adults, mate, and lay eggs on twigs. The nymphs then drop to the ground, burrow, and feed on roots until the next emergence.

Do periodical cicadas pose any risks to people, pets, or plants?

Periodical cicadas are harmless to people and pets. They may cause minor damage to small tree branches and leaves but typically don’t harm plants significantly. Wrapping small trees in mesh and delaying planting new trees until after the emergence can help protect them.

Should I protect my trees?

Young trees planted within the past year or so are susceptible to damage from cicadas, particularly because females lay eggs by making slits in branches less than ¼ inch in diameter. While this egg-laying doesn’t seriously harm mature trees, young trees with predominantly thin branches are more vulnerable.

To safeguard a young tree, consider wrapping it in fine-mesh netting, like tulle, commonly used for ballerina tutus. Visit a fabric store promptly, as tulle may become scarce this spring. Wrapping the entire branching area of a small tree will require several yards of fabric.

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