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13-year, 17-year cicadas to return to Illinois, Indiana this spring

Two broods of cicadas expected in spring
Two broods of cicadas expected in spring 00:38

CHICAGO (CBS) -- During the dog days of summer from July through September, and even into October, annual dog-day cicadas provide a twilight lullaby to the Chicago area and well beyond – and can often be heard during the day.

But the annual cicadas will not be alone this year. Two broods of the bugs that only appear decades apart will occur simultaneously in 2024.

Two "broods" at once

This is the first time such a thing has happened since 1803. There was not even a city of Chicago as we know it today in 1803 – the year the U.S. government built Fort Dearborn at the present-day intersection of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive downtown.

One group – Brood XIX - appears every 13 years and will be back this year for the first time since 2011. Another – the better-known Brood XIII – appears every 17 years and will be back for the first time since 2007.

Gene Kritsky / Mount St. Joseph University

The cicada broods emerge from underground to engage in an approximately month-long mating ritual – during which they shed their skin and, in the words of researchers, "sing."

When will the cicadas emerge? 

The 13-year and 17-year cicadas will appear in Illinois and Indiana when the ground warms up in late April or early May. The University of Connecticut reported the broods do not overlap to a significant degree – and thus, the co-emergence of the two broods will not involve "extreme or 'double' densities" of cicadas beyond what is expected for any periodical cicada emergence year.

Can you eat a cicada?

There is fun to be had on the news when the 17-year cicada emerges. In 2007 – the last time for Brood XIII – CBS 2 Meteorologist Ed Curran enjoyed a cicada po' boy live on our old CBS 2 Morning News, with Roseanne Tellez and the late Randy Salerno observing from the studio. Jimmy Bannos of Heaven on Seven restaurant fame prepared the tasty cicada po'boy during a live hit at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle.

During Brood XIII's last appearance before that in 1990, our archive shows that the late CBS 2 reporter Bob Wallace also ate a cicada – deep-fried at Café Ba-Ba-Reeba! on Halsted Street in Lincoln Park. He described the flavor and texture as a "kind of soft-shell crab."

The late CBS 2 reporter Bob Wallace prepares to eat a deep-fried cicada for Channel 2 News, Ba-Ba-Reeba! Restaurant, May 31, 1990. CBS 2

You may not want to eat the cicadas, but you should know they're harmless – and the periodical broods won't be around long.

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