Unique Blue-eyed Cicadas Found in Illinois During Brood Emergence

Estimated read time 4 min read

Illinois is famous for its varied animal life and recently showcased an unusual insect event. Amidst the regular crowd of red-eyed cicadas, two blue-eyed variants have been discovered this year. This has attracted a lot of attention as it the special nature of these insects.


A Special Find in Wheaton

In Wheaton, just outside Chicago, a family stumbled upon a different blue-eyed cicada in their backyard. Four-year-old Jack Bailey was gathering cicadas when he found this distinct specimen. His 14-year-old sister Caroline recognized the uniqueness due to its blue eyes.

“I thought it was fascinating and unique, I had no knowledge about the existence of blue-eyed cicadas,” commented their mother, Greta Bailey during her interview at Field Museum. At first, they released the cicada after snapping some pictures but with knowledge about its uniqueness, they brought it back.

The female insect which passed away later became part of Field Museum of Natural History’s collection in Chicago. It is recognized as the first blue-eyed inclusion into museum’s display at Science Hub. Why such mutation causing blue eyes arose are still unknown and has become a high point of attention for bug experts.


An Additional Discovery in Orland Park

Kelly Simkins, who owns and operates touring zoo Merlin’s Rockin’ Pet Show found another one in Orland Park just outside Chicago city limits. Kelly called her discovery “one in a million” sharing early Monday via social media that left public highly intrigued by this phenomenon.

Kelly’s finding echoes how uncommon these blue-eyed varieties are. Gene Kritsky who wrote “Periodical Cicadas, The Plague and the Puzzle” said they are extremely rare instances where out millions only one carries blue eyes.


The Arrival of Broods XIX and XIII

Illinois is now seeing the emergence of two periodical cicada broods that hasn’t happened in over 220 years. Both Brood XIX and Brood XIII are surfacing across the state, resulting in a significant rise of these insects.

  • Brood XIX, they cover southern and central Illinois as well as areas towards the Southeast.
  • Brood XIII, mostly seen in Midwest including northern Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana, and Michigan.

This noteworthy event resulted in huge numbers of these noisy creatures coming to surface from their home beneath after many years. Their appearance starts when the soil eight inches deep hits 64 degrees that generally takes place from April to June.


Life Cycle Characteristics

Cicadas have an interesting life cycle with two current broods living different lengths,

  • Brood XIX, has a 13year lifespan
  • Brood XIII, lives for 17 years

After male and female cicadas’ mate, females lay their eggs before both die off only spending few weeks above ground. This lasts roughly three to six weeks where most expire by June. Annual cicadas however live differently than others. Their young ones stay underground for two to five years even though some members reach adulthood every year.


The Cicada Killer Wasp

The event also brings about their top predator. Cicada killer wasps into limelight which are effective hunters of cicadas. As number of Cicadas increase it’s also expected for these wasps’ population numbers to grow alongside them.


Intrigue From the Public Resulting in More Research

The public’s curiosity about cicadas especially unique ones as blue-eyed versions have encouraged greater focus on insect study and recording. Field Museum in Chicago is the prime attraction for such studies, offering an ideal platform for scientists and bug lovers to explore more about these insects.

Dr. Gene Kritsky’s app called Cicada Safari helps keep records of US cicada sightings providing invaluable data for ongoing research. This year, among 40,000 cases just two of were about blue-eyed cicadas demonstrating their rarity.


Final Thought

The identification of blue-eyed cicadas in Illinois during the emergence of Broods XIX and XIII has got everyone talking. These rare sightings and the appearance of both broods at once make it a special year for insect research in Illinois. Even as cicadas emerge and then die off, the interest in these bugs and their unique features marks a significant aspect of the 2024 cicada season.

Celina Brooks https://www.southcountymail.com

Celina Brooks from Mussoorie is a Writer & Researcher. She earned her Engineering degree in IT from Rutgers University. She is a technology enthusiast but loves writing and talking about local news as well. She is a jolly person with 2 children.

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