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Cicada Mania in Midwest

A billionth population of American cicadas come out during final weeks in their lives to rejoice in a huge mating par

Cicada Mania
Cicada Mania
Cicada Mania
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Magicicada is a unique species that lives only in the United States, mostly in the eastern part, and is distinguished with bulging red eyes. They live in broods about 30 cm under the ground and crawl out just once in 13 or 17 years in order to mate, lay eggs and die. When they do, it looks incredible—tens of billions of tiny insects produce such a great noise that it overbears the sound of a plane flying above and perhaps even a rock concert.

The mysterious natural performance occurs under a single vital condition—the ground temperature has to be 18 °C. The action begins at night,—one by one they emerge from beneath. Endless swarms climb up tree trunks where they are about to lose the shells and free out their delicate wings. A small insect is only 2.5 cm long. Still, they are so numerous that if you put them in a line head to tail, that chain could reach to the Moon and back.

One might fear of such a mass invasion, but in fact cicadas are harmless. The worst they can do is to spoil the seedlings or bushes. Actually, these are them who are in danger—many will become meal for local wildlife. Those who survive, and it's still billions, will finally mate two or three weeks later. That's the peak of the whole racket—when males cry frantically calling females for sex.

Afterwards, each female lays hundreds of eggs in tree trunks concavities. Gradually all noises fade away, cicadas die one after another, and billions of tiny corpses are lying in the decay. Sad, but soon a new generation is hatching from the eggs. They are going to drop down to the ground and instinctively burrow themselves away for the next 13 or 17 years.

Overall, the USA numbers 15 broods of Magicicadas scattered all over the country. Each brood reappears every 13 or 17 years. It means cicada mania is observed every year, just in different locations. In southern states, it starts in early May, whereas in the north—in late May or early July—all depends on the ground temperature. It's possible to live in the area, and still miss the frenzy. In the Midwest, Magicicadas can be frequently observed at Big Foot Beach State Park at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (1 hour from Milwaukee), and Moraine Nature Preserve in Indiana and nearby Des Plaines River Trail, Illinois, You can see them at Morton Arboretum at Lisle, Illinois, as well as at Battelle Darby Creek Park in Ohio. If you plan to witness the massive insects overrun, check Magicicada brood chart provided on the official website by the link below.

Practical info

When is the prime period to observe cicada mania in Midwest?

In Midwest, cicada mania is best observed in May-mid-June when ground temperature reaches 18 °C. Depending on the location, they may appear in early May, late May, early July, or other times. The official website provides the Magicicada brood chart to find specific dates for each location. Show more

Which locations are recommended to see the cicada mania in Midwest?

In Midwest, Big Foot Beach State Park at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, Morton Arboretum at Lisle, Illinois, Moraine Nature Preserve in Indiana, nearby Des Plaines River Trail, Illinois, and Battelle Darby Creek Park in Ohio are good observations sites. Magicicadas appear every year in different locations designated by 15 different broods scattered across the nation. Show more

What is the number of United States broods, and what is the frequency of emergence for Magicicadas?

There are 15 broods of Magicicadas in the United States, appearing every 13 or 17 years. After either 13 or 17 years underground, each brood reappears. Billions of cicadas swarm over an area for several weeks before mating, laying eggs, and dying. Cicada mania is observed every year in different locations, depending on the emergence cycle of the brood. Show more

Do cicadas pose any threat to humans or animals?

There is no known danger to animals or humans from cicadas. Cicadas often ruin plants or shrubs when they emerge from the ground. The worst harm they may cause is to get entangled in somebody's hair or clothing. Young cicadas, which feed on tree roots for years, may do harm, but adults do not eat, bite, or sting humans or pets. Although, their presence can attract predators like birds, squirrels, and dogs. Show more

How does the Magicicada reproduce, and what is their approximate lifespan?

Magicicadas mate and lay hundreds of their eggs on tree trunks during their several weeks' lifespan. They spend 13 or 17 years underground as juveniles, and after emerging, they mate in giant groups, luring each other with loud calls. Females mostly lay their eggs on concavities of tree trunks, and when they hatch, the young cicadas drop to the ground and instinctively burrow themselves underground for another 13 or 17 years as juveniles. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin