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Cicada broods to make noisy return to Illinois next summer, experts say

If you think the cicadas are loud now, just wait until next June.

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"Periodical" cicada broods only emerge every 13 and 17 years in the United States, and Illinois residents should know that next year will see the insects make a noisy return to center stage.

Allen Lawrence, Associate Curator of Entomology at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, says this is our last summer of only hearing annual cicadas before the noisier periodical cicadas arrive in force next year.

“You’re just going to see hundreds or thousands of these large, black and orange insects just sort of crawling around singing their hearts our trying to attract each other as a mate,” Lawrence said.

The cicadas residents are hearing now are annual cicadas. Different than periodical cicadas, these annual insects can have a life cycle of anywhere from four to nine years depending on the species and come out later in the summer.

“The periodical cicadas will only be around for about a month, so by the end of June going into July, they’ll disappear,” Lawrence said. “But then our annual cicadas will be coming out, and then we’ll hear them through the rest of the summer.”

The humming sound cicadas make is the male insects’ effort to attract females. Lawrence said the later summer months are peak mating season, and that people may notice heightened chorus centers.

“When you have multiple cicadas singing in the same area, that creates a louder signal,” Lawrence said.” So then female cicadas can hear it from further away and hopefully be drawn in close to them.”

Although residents can hear both cicadas in the summer, the insects can be differentiated by their color. While annual cicadas are large and green, periodical cicadas are black and orange and slightly smaller in size.

Periodical cicadas can be expected in the Chicago area as soon as late May or early June of 2024.

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