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This coming spring more than one TRILLION cicadas could emerge across the Midwest and Southeast portion of the United States. This is a direct result of two separate broods potentially aligning for the first time since 1803.

Brood XIII and Brood XIX represent two distinct groups of periodical cicadas (Magicicada) that emerge according to 17- and 13-year life cycles, respectively. In a rare natural event that occurs once every 221 years, these two broods will synchronously tunnel through the ground to the surface starting in late April across 16 states.

The periodical cicadas spend most of their lives buried underground where they feed off saps that ooze from treeroots for substance. After 13 or 17 years starved of daylight (depending on the species), the insects burrow to the surface using their front legs and transform into adults. The males vibrate membranes on the sides of their bodies to produce a song which then attracts mates.

A female will then lay the eggs in tree branches that she has cut slits into. The adults will then last another three to four weeks but don’t live to see the eggs hatch. The newly hatched nymphs then drop to the ground and tunnel down into the soil thus starting the whole years and years-long process back over, essentially hitting a “reset” button.

The two Broods will overlap in the northern Illinois and eastern Iowa areas. Brood XIII which is the mostly northern Illinois brood will also emerge in pockets of the Hoosier State and Wisconsin. Brood XIX, or the Great Southern Brood, will be widespread throughout the Midwest and Southeast. 

Scientists believe the cicadas will likely cluster together in forest areas or green urban spaces close to where the insects emerge. The Spring of 2024 event shall likely end by early July and scientists are imploring the public to simply leave them be as they are extremely beneficial to the ecosystem and do not bite, sting, or carry deadly diseases.

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