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When cicadas will emerge in Illinois and how long they'll live above ground for 2024

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CHICAGO (CBS) – You may have heard that 2024 will be a big year for cicadas emerging in Illinois, but how long will they actually live above ground?

Two different broods of cicadas are expected to emerge in different parts of Illinois and around the country. They'll spend most of their time above ground reproducing and laying eggs.

Chicago's soil temperature reached 64 degrees on Tuesday morning. Meteorologist Ed Curran's digital thermometer measured 8 inches underground to find the soil temperature needed for emergence. 

Curran said the cooler weather on Tuesday could take a degree away from the soil. 

Here's what you need to know about what to expect this summer.

When will periodical cicadas emerge in Illinois?

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 then emerge once the soil reaches 64 degrees. 

Because they are temperature-dependent, their emergences may vary depending on the location. In 2024, they are expected sometime in May or early June, according to Ken Johnson, a horticulture educator at the University of Illinois.

Since it may warm up faster in southern states, such as South Carolina, the cicadas might emerge as soon as April, while in cooler states, such as those in the upper Midwest, they might not emerge until June.

How long do cicadas usually live above ground?

Cicadas spend the vast majority of their lives underground and come out at the end of the 13 or 17-year cycle. When they emerge, their job is to reproduce.

To attract mates, male cicadas start buzzing loudly — which is why the presence of cicadas is accompanied by a loud droning sound. They start this process about four to five days after they emerge, according to Johnson.

The females will flick their wings to signal to the males they want to mate, Kasson said.

The females lay their eggs in woody plants, using their ovipositor, or egg-laying organ, to inject about 10-20 eggs into branches. Females can lay around 500 to 600 eggs, Johnson said.

The eggs hatch about six weeks after they're laid, and the babies fall to the ground, eventually digging themselves into the soil, where they will remain for 13 or 17 years.

Their parents, however, die shortly after the mating process, lasting only about a month above ground. 

How long will cicadas be around in Illinois?

Periodical cicadas spend most of their time living underground feeding on tree roots. They begin to emerge above ground once the soil warms enough, usually around late May or early June.

Adult cicadas will spend most of their time above ground reproducing, according to the University of Illinois. The male cicadas will start singing four or five days after they emerge.

After mating, the female cicadas will lay their eggs, about 500 to 600 each.

Then, after about a month, the adult cicadas will begin to die.

When will periodical cicadas emerge again in Illinois after 2024?

About six to 10 weeks after they are laid, the eggs will begin to hatch. The tiny cicada nymphs will drop to the ground and begin feeding, often on grass roots.

Eventually, they'll dig down into the soil, about 8 to 12 inches deep. They'll feed on tree roots for the next 13 to 17 years.

Where will cicadas emerge in Illinois?

Brood XIII, or the Northern Illinois Brood, will emerge in the northern half of the state. The brood contains all three species of 17-year periodical cicadas. This brood will also emerge in Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, and possibly Michigan, according to the University of Illinois.

Brood XIX, also known as the Great Southern Brood, will emerge in the southern half of Illinois. The four species of this brood are 13-year cicadas. The brood will also emerge in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

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