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Cicada-geddon 2024: Are You Ready For The Billion-Bug Spectacle?

This spring, trillions and trillions of periodical cicadas will co-emerge for the first time in more than 221 years.

The convergence of mating season for two different broods means the odds of experiencing cicadas this year are double.

The following infographic tells you everything you need to know about this rare cicada event.

PlayUSA infographic, entitled, A Tale of Two Broods, details surprising facts about cicadas, and when and where to expect the cicada dual emergence in 2024.

When are the cicadas coming in 2024?

There are nearly 15 broods of periodical cicadas on 17-year lifecycles and three on 13-year lifecycles.  These groups—aka broods—of locust-type bugs live most of their long lives underground and only come out once to mate.

Mating time is near for the 13-year Brood XIX and 17-year Brood XIII cicadas.

The U.S. typically experiences one brood emergence at a time every year. But for the first time since 1803,  these two broods’ lifecycles happen to align.

These cicadas should arrive sometime between now and June.

As far as knowing when exactly, it depends on the soil temperature. Once the ground reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit, juvenile cicadas emerge.

Warmer states may have them already. South Carolina is seeing cicadas ahead of schedule. People living in the cooler states in the upper Midwest can enjoy cicada-free picnics for a few more weeks.

Ken Johnson, a horticulture editor at the University of Illinois, anticipates cicadas will arrive in the Prairie State between May and June. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — it happens only every 221 years.”

Where will the cicadas be in 2024?

This year, most of the Midwest will see the Brood XIII cicadas, and a lot of the South will see Brood XIX.

Illinois will be at the epicenter where both broods will appear throughout the state. The north-central portion will experience a double-whammy of cicadas.

These states will see one brood or the other:

  1. Alabama: XIX
  2. Arkansas: XIX
  3. Georgia: XIX
  4. Kentucky: XIX
  5. Illinois: XIII and XIX
  6. Iowa: XIII
  7. Louisiana: XIX
  8. Michigan: XIII
  9. Mississippi: XIX
  10. Missouri: XIX
  11. North Carolina: XIX
  12. South Carolina: XIX
  13. Tennessee: XIX
  14. Virginia: XIX
  15. Wisconsin: XIII

Why are we getting double the cicadas in 2024?

A 13-year brood’s and a 17-year brood’s cycles rarely align — it happens once every 221 years.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for bug fans and entomologists to experience the two cicada broods emerging together, given that it last occurred in 1803.

“It’s something that no one alive today has ever seen and no one alive today will ever see again,” said Jim Louderman, a collections assistant in the insect division at the Field Museum in Chicago.

University of Connecticut cicada expert John Cooley refers to this rare double emergence as “cicada-geddon.”

This year’s emergence will be atypically massive due to the types of broods. We should expect hundreds of trillions — even quadrillions — of cicadas to blanket the U.S. this spring. (FYI: There are 15 zeros in a quadrillion). Imagine an average of 1 million cicadas per acre over millions of acres.

Are cicadas dangerous?

Using words like “cicada-geddon” certainly doesn’t help prevent people from focusing on the harmful outcomes of cicadas, especially a rare double emergence occurring so soon after a total solar eclipse.

Cicadas are somewhat harmless to humans, though some people find the sheer number of insects and their loud mating song a nuisance.

Male cicadas do make a lot of noise for the sole purpose of attracting lady cicadas. The cicada love song rings at 100 decibels. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, being exposed to sounds at 100 decibels for more than 15 minutes can lead to potential hearing damage. Those with fragile hearing should be mindful of how long they are outside during this time.

The irony of these loud bugs is that they coexist peacefully.

Cicadas mate, molt and then die, leaving behind their offspring to bury themselves into the soil and lay dormant until their brood’s next cycle. They only last about a month above ground. They don’t bite, sting or defend themselves.  Unlike locusts, which eat plants, cicadas get their nutrients from small branches.

Most trees, however, will remain unharmed.  Still, Johnson advises waiting to plant any new trees before a periodical cicada emergence. You can put netting around small trees and shrubs to keep them away, making sure openings are no larger than 1/4 of an inch so the bugs can’t get in.

Johnson said that people tend to focus on the bad outcomes of cicada emergences, but cicadas are essential parts of Midwestern ecosystems.


Sources used in the cicada graphic:

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