Cicadas Illinois

Seeing white cicadas in Illinois? No, they're not mutated. Here's what it is

Turns out, it's not actually a rare or mutated cicada, but it is a sight that won't last for long

NBC Universal, Inc.

Are you seeing white cicadas in your yard during the historic 2024 emergence in Illinois? You're not alone.

While many have come to recognize the dark-bodied, red-eyed winged creatures coming out in force this year, some have been noticing a lighter-bodied cicada that has them questioning.

Turns out, it's not actually a rare or mutated cicada, but it is a sight that won't last for long.

According to experts, white cicadas are actually newly transitioning cicadas.

"The nymphs typically emerge from the soil in the evening and climb up trees or other objects and molt, leaving behind the familiar cicada shells or shed exoskeleton," the University of Illinois reported. "After the adults emerge, they are white and soft-bodied."

But that appearance will quickly shift.

According to the U of I, cicadas' bodies "will darken and harden overnight."

It's not the only unique color change possible involving this year's cicadas.

In a far less common sighting, a rare blue-eyed cicada was reportedly spotted in a Chicago suburb over the weekend.

Experts said blue-eyed cicadas have been seen before, but such sightings are rare.

"One in a million," said Dr. Gene Kritsky, dean of Behavioral and Natural Sciences at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati.

Kritsky, who designed an app that tracks cicadas in the U.S. called Cicada Safari, said the image from Orland Park is one of only two he has seen so far this year out of 40,000 reports. In previous emergences, he said he's seen two or three such cicada images come through out of 500,000 submissions.

The cause of the pigment change or mutation remains unclear, Kritsky said.

The current emergence is a historic one as it involves two broods of cicadas - Brood XIII and Brood XIX - emerging simultaneously for the first time 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."

Warm weekend temperatures likely sparked an increase in the emergence in the Chicago area, as experts said cicadas would emerge in larger amounts once ground temperatures reached 64 degrees.

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