Everything You Need to Know About the Cicada Emergence

by Missy Nolan
Exoskeletons, nymphs and adult 17-year Brood X cicadas on the ground underneath a tree in eastern Illinois during 2021 emergence.

Many people have been anxiously glued to their phones or TVs, waiting for updates on cicadas in 2024. Some worried folks claim the cicada emergence — dubbed the “cicadapocalypse” by some social media users — has end-of-the-world implications. Others are excited to experience a once-in-a-lifetime event in the United States when two neighboring cicada broods emerge together, which only happens once every 221 years.

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Regardless of your stance on these noisy insects, you may have questions about the cicada bug. Continue scrolling for the rundown on the cicadas' 2024 appearance. 

What Is the Cicada Emergence in 2024?

Don't be surprised if you see more cicadas than usual in 2024. This year is special because two different broods of cicadas, Brood XIII and Brood XIX, will emerge at the same time. Researchers estimate that as the year progresses, some states may have trillions of cicadas emerge — though not necessarily all at once. 

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When Are the Cicadas Emerging?

Cicadas often emerge when the weather is warm. The 2024 cicada emergence may already be taking place in your area, with many states expected to see cicadas in May or June of this year. Warmer states may see these periodical cicada broods as early as late April in 2024. 

Which Areas Will Be the Most Affected by Cicadas?

More than a dozen states in the Midwest and Southeast will have periodical cicada broods emerge in 2024. These states include Illinois, Alabama, Missouri, South Carolina and Iowa. Experts believe most of these cicadas will emerge in the Midwest.

What Are Broods, and How Often Do They Emerge?

Cicadas are predictable insects. A brood refers to cicadas that emerge in a specific year and area during a predetermined cycle. Aside from the occasional stragglers, periodical cicada broods emerge on a set schedule, such as every 13 or 17 years. Annual cicadas generally emerge every two to five years. 

How Many Cicadas Will Emerge in 2024?

Some parts of the United States may have zero periodical cicadas in 2024. States where cicadas emerge may have billions — or even trillions — of these buzzing insects. 

What Happens Once Cicadas Emerge?

Annual cicadas and periodical cicadas spend most of their lives underground. When cicadas are ready to emerge from their burrows a couple of feet below the soil, they carefully climb a vertical surface such as a tree trunk. Once cicadas are above ground, they shed their shells and stretch out their wings. Cicadas only remain above the soil for a month or two. During this time, male cicadas begin singing — though the sound may not sound like music to human ears — after four or five days in hopes of mating with female cicadas. 

How Long Do Cicadas Live After They Emerge?

Cicadas typically only live for four to six weeks after they emerge, but some may live as long as eight weeks above ground. Most of the 13-year or 17-year cycles for periodical cicadas take place below the earth. The same is true for periodical and annual cicadas from the Northern Illinois brood, the Great Southern brood and other broods across the United States. 

Are Locusts and Cicadas the Same Thing?

These terms are often used interchangeably, but cicadas and locusts aren't the same thing. Locusts are a type of grasshopper, and they have smaller, slimmer bodies than cicadas. Cicadas feed on tree sap, not the plants in your garden, while locusts are notorious for destroying crops. A swarm of locusts can devour more than 300 million pounds of vegetation in just one day. 

Do Cicadas Bite?

Cicadas' bright red eyes may make them look intimidating, but these insects aren't here to hurt you or your loved ones. Cicadas don't bite, sting or attack humans or pets, so save your bug-repellant spray for mosquito season. 

Are Cicadas Harmful?

Ignore rumors claiming these tiny terrors will hurt you, your pets or livestock. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says cicadas are harmless. However, cicada shells can mold if they remain sitting in damp areas, so you may want to sweep them up if you find them on your porch or patio. Leave the shells alone if you see them in your garden or yard, as the decomposing shells can provide essential nutrients for your soil. Cicadas won't eat your garden crops because they feed on sap from tree roots. 

Keep an eye on young trees, as these may experience some mild damage from female cicadas laying eggs. You can protect young trees by covering them in netting or mesh. Older trees can generally withstand a visit from cicadas. 

When Is the Next Cicada Emergence?

If you miss the cicadas' 2024 visit, you won't be able to see two cicada broods with different life cycles together for another 221 years. However, you can still see the same periodical cicada broods in another decade. Brood XIX will emerge in 13 years, and Brood XIII will return in 17 years. You may also see annual cicadas before then, as these broods often emerge every few years. 

Cicadas Aren't Scary 

Don't let fear keep you from enjoying an event that won't happen for another 221 years. Cicadas are friendly insects that spend most of their above-ground time mating, not terrorizing you or feasting on your crops.

Elocal Editorial Content is for educational and entertainment purposes only. Editorial Content should not be used as a substitute for advice from a licensed professional in your state reviewing your issue. Systems, equipment, issues and circumstances vary. Follow the manufacturer's safety precautions. The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the eLocal Editorial Team and other third-party content providers do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of eLocal or its affiliate companies. Use of the Blog is subject to the

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Elocal Editorial Content is for educational and entertainment purposes only. Editorial Content should not be used as a substitute for advice from a licensed professional in your state reviewing your issue. The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the eLocal Editorial Team and other third-party content providers do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of eLocal or its affiliate companies. Use of eLocal Editorial Content is subject to the

Website Terms and Conditions.

The eLocal Editorial Team operates independently of eLocal USA's marketing and sales decisions.

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