A cicada. It's a bug.
(Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

The 2024 Cicadapocalypse Is Almost Upon Us in Illinois

Seventeen years ago, during the summer, the cicadas were all over the news if you lived in Chicago—”The cicadas are coming! The cicadas are coming!” You would’ve thought it was a major natural disaster.

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And yet … I remember walking down the street with my friends, thinking surely the whole “cicada” thing was being overblown. And while walking, multiple cicadas flew right into my freaking face. You could see them everywhere, buzzing from tree to tree, like flies around some rotting meat. I do not enjoy insects up close, so it was rather unpleasant.

I have since learned to enjoy cicadas, thanks to their very pleasant association with summertime in Japan (watch any anime that takes place in the summer, like Neon Genesis Evangelion, and cicadas will be a staple of the ambient soundtrack). But one of the broods that emerged in Chicago in 2007, Brood XIII, dozes underground for 17 years, meaning that they’ll be coming up again this year, in 2024.

So when should you don your protective anti-cicada, large-brimmed, perhaps even mosquito-netted hats? And will such absurd headwear even be necessary?

When is cicada o’clock?

The good news is that the 2024 cicada emergence in northern Illinois is not expected to be as intense as the 2007 emergence. In 2007, there were multiple broods coming up all at once, culminating in the fly-in-your-face levels which prevail in my teenaged memories of that summer. There are multiple broods coming up in 2024, but they’re split between the 17-year brood in the northern part of Illinois, and the 13-year brood in the southern part.

But still, when will the first cicadas emerge?

Many people were expecting the cicadas to be out already. They emerged notably early in 2007, after all. But the cicadas live underground, and they’ll emerge when the ground hits 64 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in Illinois, particularly the Chicago area, you know it’s overall been weirdly cold this May, so it’s not surprising the ground hasn’t hit that threshold yet.

Once it regularly gets warmer, the cicadas will come. Experts are expecting that to be around late May or early June. Once they do, they’ll be above ground for about a month while they get down to mating business, lay their eggs, and live out the sunset years of their lives. The babies that hatch from the eggs will fall into the ground, and the whole 13- or 17-year cycle starts over again.

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Kirsten Carey
Kirsten (she/her) is a contributing writer at the Mary Sue specializing in anime and gaming. In the last decade, she's also written for Channel Frederator (and its offshoots), Screen Rant, and more. In the other half of her professional life, she's also a musician, which includes leading a very weird rock band named Throwaway. When not talking about One Piece or The Legend of Zelda, she's talking about her cats, Momo and Jimbei.