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Cicadas 2021: Where the biggest swarm is expected

Poised to come up from the ground, a large swarm of Cicadas that have been underground for 17 years is expected this summer.

MOLINE, Ill. — A 'tsunami' of cicadas will begin hatching by late May swarming the skies with one of the biggest populations in recent years. While the biggest concentration of cicadas won't be in the Quad Cities, it will be fairly close by.

Before cicadas become adults, they begin as eggs left on a twig by the female, which then drops into the ground and burrows where they spend most of their lifecycle at depths that can range from six to eight feet. As they reach adulthood, they emerge from their burrows shedding their skins on a nearby plant for the last time. 

According to the United States Forestry Service, which is one of many organizations that tracks cicada broods each year, this year's brood, known as 'Brood X', will consist of millions of cicadas filling the sky. 

Surprisingly, the largest brood expected to hatch in the near term will actually be located in Northern Illinois, but that isn't expected to take place until late May 2024. This brood, known as 'Brood XIII' has a reputation for the largest emergence of cicadas known anywhere, according to the University of Illinois Extension. This is in part due to research and reporting over the years by entomologists at the Field Museum in Chicago. 

Credit: Ollllonate - Wikipedia

When 'Brood XIII' emerged back in 1956, researchers counted an average of 311 emergence holes per square yard in a forested floodplain outside of Chicago. This translates to 1.5 million cicadas per acre. The population was so large that when the cicadas started dying off later in the spring, they dropped from trees in large numbers creating a foul odor. Some people in Chicago even had to use snow shovels to clear their sidewalks of the dead cicadas. 

Credit: United States Forestry Service
This map shows which cicada broods will hatch in 2021 and beyond.

This year's massive 'Brood X' emergence is expected to take place throughout much of Indiana and Ohio. So, while we won't see the big hatch here in the Quad Cities this year, our time is up come 2024.

-Meteorologist Andrew Stutzke 

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