Watch CBS News

Extremely rare "blue-eyed" cicada spotted in Chicago suburb

CBS News Live
CBS News Chicago Live

In what could be described as trapping lightning in a bottle, a suburban Chicago family spotted an extremely rare blue-eyed cicada.

Greta Wallgren Bailey said that her daughter found it in Wheaton on Monday. She took photos of the unique insect batting its baby blues.

This blue-eyed bugger was spotted in Wheaton.  Greta Wallgren Bailey
Four-year-old Jack collecting cicadas.  Greta Wallgren Bailey

Greta Bailey said her son, Jack, "has been in heaven since they started emerging and has taken to collecting a lot of them."

Jack's older sister, Caroline, peeked into his bucket of bugs and saw the blue-eyed insect staring back at her. She brought it inside to show mom, who thought it was cool. Bailey took a few pictures and Caroline let it go. 

Greta said she had no idea blue-eyed cicadas were a thing. 

"After telling my family about it, we came to find out how rare they are and were kicking ourselves for not keeping it," Bailey said. 

Caroline (left) and Addison Bailey

Undaunted, Caroline and her twin sister, Addison, went on a mission that night. Armed with flashlights, they set out to find their missing blue-eyed bug. 

Amazingly, the duo found it and brought it back into the house, where the family created a little habitat for their special visitor. 

Bailey said the Field Museum is interested in obtaining their specimen. 

Most of the trillions of cicadas swarming across Illinois this year have red eyes. However, experts say a tiny number have blue or white eyes.

The USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab has one of the rare 17-year buggers in its collection. Their treasure was found on the lab's Maryland property in 2021.

An extremely rare blue-eyed Cicada in the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab. Erick Hernandez/USGS

"We will just deposit it in the Smithsonian, right next to the Hope Diamond," the USGS joked on its Flickr account.

Are blue-eyed cicadas worth money?

Why do some have blue eyes? The USGS said nobody really knows. 

Are they valuable? No. A rumor that blue-eyed cicadas were fetching up to $1,000 from bug collectors has been debunked. 

There are two groups of periodical cicadas — those that emerge every 13 years and those that emerge every 17 years. For most of their lives, cicadas live underground and emerge once the soil reaches 64 degrees. 

Do cicadas pee on people? 

The cicadas began to emerge from their 17 years in the dirt late last week.

As if lying dormant in the dirt for 17 years isn't weird enough, cicadas possess another bizarre habit: they pee like crazy, up to 10 feet per second. The news comes as they're preparing to emerge in the Chicago area, one of the most populous zones on this year's cicada map.

A study credited to two Georgia Institute of Technology authors — titled "Unifying Fluidic Excretion Across Life From Cicadas to Elephants" — posits that cicadas weighing mere grams "possess the capability for jetting fluids through remarkably small orifices."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.