Cicadas Illinois

Cicadas on the rise in Chicago area. Here's a map of where sightings have been reported most

The map from Cicada Safari, an app created by Dr. Gene Kritsky at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, tracks cicada sightings

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Cicada sightings have been climbing in the Chicago area following a hot weekend, but where are the biggest populations and what should you expect in your area?

A cicada map that tracks spottings across the U.S. shows some of the highest sightings have been reported in suburbs west of Chicago, particularly near the Downers Grove area. The Oak Park area has also seen a higher number of sightings as well as some southern suburbs around the Palos Park and Park Forest areas and northern suburbs like Lake Forest and Highland Park.

Cicadas emerging in Northfield, Illinois, captured on May 19, 2024.

The map from Cicada Safari, an app created by Dr. Gene Kritsky at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati to track cicadas, allows residents and experts to submit photos of cicada sightings in their area. Once those images are verified by experts, the sighting is marked on the map.

A high number of sightings have also been reported in areas of central and southern Illinois, where the emergence began earlier than much of the Chicago area. Still, it appears the Chicago area and northern Illinois have the highest number of reports in the state.

Kritsky noted he traveled to Illinois last week and over the weekend and found a particularly notable emergence in Charleston, Illinois, south of Champaign.

Cicadas in McHenry County. Photo credt: Lizz D.

"They were having the beginnings of a really big emergence," he said. "We got there at noon and hundreds had emerged just that morning and were still finishing the process of transitioning."

Still, elsewhere in the U.S., areas around Tennessee and Kentucky, as well as North Carolina and South Carolina, have seen higher numbers so far. That's not unexpected, however, given their season started earlier due to warmer climates.

The data for the map is limited to the submissions it receives. Kritsky said that, as of Monday, at least 40,000 submissions had been received for this year's emergence so far.

The current emergence is a scene that hasn't been seen in centuries. The historic 2024 emergence involves two broods of cicadas - Brood XIII and Brood XIX - emerging simultaneously. Those two broods of 13-year and 17-year cicadas haven't emerged together in more than 220 years.

"This is like the year for Illinois," cicada expert Catherine Dana, an affiliate with the Illinois Natural History Survey, told NBC Chicago. "We are going to have cicadas emerging all over the state."

While much of Illinois will see at least one brood emerging, a narrow part of Central Illinois could see both. But there's no way to know for sure just by looking at the cicadas, Kritsky said. The only way to know will be to check the area in 13 and 17 years to see if cicadas from each brood emerge.

Warm weekend temperatures likely sparked an increase in the emergence in the Chicago area, as experts said the emergence would begin in force once ground temperatures reached 64 degrees.

The emergence has even started earlier than average in Illinois.

According to some experts, the emergence of the first cicadas came about two weeks ahead of the historic average. It will continue to be sporadic, however, as soil temperature, mulch and turf grass all impact cicadas differently. For example, the soil is warmer near pavement, so cicadas in the those spots are expected to emerge quicker.

A rise in humidity levels can also play a role, the Insect Asylum reported.

Watch as district staff put a creative twist on taking us through the fascinating life cycle of a 17-year cicada.

That could mean sightings will climb even higher this week as humidity levels are on the rise in the area.

As of Monday morning, NBC 5 Storm Team meteorologists said dew points were set to climb into the low-to-mid 60s, up from the 50s over the weekend. They'll likely stay at that level again Tuesday.

Cicadas have a lifespan of approximately four weeks, meaning the emergence is set to last through at least mid-June.

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