A Brood of Cicadas expected to hit Midwest this spring: More than a trillion cicadas, a number not seen since 1803


Important Takeaways:

  • The last time the Northern Illinois Brood’s 17-year cycle aligned with the Great Southern Brood’s 13-year period, Thomas Jefferson was president. After this spring, it’ll be another 221 years before the broods, which are geographically adjacent, appear together again.
  • “Nobody alive today will see it happen again,” said Floyd W. Shockley, the chair of the Entomology Collections Committee at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. “That’s really rather humbling.”
  • These insects will begin to appear in late April. They’ll use their forelegs to tunnel out from the earth, their beady red eyes looking for a spot where they can peacefully finish maturing. A few days after they emerge and molt, the males will start buzzing in an effort to find a mate, a slow-building crescendo of noise that in a chorus can be louder than a plane.
  • Shockley said the dual emergence would most likely result in more than one trillion cicadas appearing in the roughly 16-state area where the two broods are generally seen. Forested areas, including urban green spaces, will have higher numbers than will agricultural regions. To put that into perspective, one trillion cicadas, each of which are just over an inch long, would cover 15,782,828 miles if they were laid end-to-end.
  • “That cicada train would reach to the moon and back 33 times,” he said.

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