A tawny frogmouth at Brookfield Zoo made the wise choice to play with but not eat a periodical cicada. The insects have been linked to disease in some birds. (Jim Schulz / Brookfield Zoo Chicago)

All signs point to a cicada-induced vitamin deficiency as the cause of a mystery disease that affected some birds during a 2021 emergence and now again in 2024.

A cicada’s lifespan is short, from alive and thriving to dead and rotting in a matter of weeks. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Members of the first wave of cicadas have done their thing: They came, they molted, they screamed, they bred, and now they’re dying.

The Field Museum’s Maureen Turcatel and Jim Louderman examine a cicada specimen to add to the Field’s insect collection, May 30, 2024. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

The Field Museum has more than 10 million specimens in its insect collection and — believe it or not — not a single 13-year periodical cicada among them. So what better time than now to fill that gap?

Brood XIX periodical cicada. (Alabama Extension / Flickr Creative Commons)

If you wouldn’t eat a vegetable grown in that soil, don’t eat a cicada.

Cicada sculptures, this one in Winnemac Park on the North Side, are as close as many Chicagoans are going to get to the real thing. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Some of the early “They’re here!” excitement has definitely given way to “Wait, they’re staying for how long?” At the opposite end of the spectrum, Chicagoans are wondering why they got left out of the great 2024 emergence.

Somewhere in the bubble bath is a spittlebug nymph, which farts out foam as a protective cocoon. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

The tiny critters are almost impossible to spot, but you can’t miss their bubbles.

A graphic that says "The Return of the Cicadas." (WTTW News)

In case you haven’t heard, the cicadas are coming, and things are about to get loud. WTTW News explains.

Brood XIII periodical cicada, photographed May 19, 2024, in Illinois. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Periodical cicadas use trees’ lifecycles to “count” years. But when trees get duped by climate change, so do the insects. Could it lead to new broods?

A cicada specimen. (USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab)
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The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has announced its plan to host a cicada-themed art show during the Illinois State Fair and is seeking entries from the public, looking for interpretations of cicadas or broods.

Cicadas mating. (AFPMB / Flickr Creative Commons Public Domain)

In 2024, Illinois can’t be beat for periodical cicadas. Here’s everything you need to know about these fascinating creatures, and what to expect between now and July.

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County’s video has humans act out periodical cicadas’ lifecycle. (Screenshot)

“Nature education is a big part of what we do here, but you gotta find a way to make it interesting so that people actually watch it,” said Jonathan Mullen, part of the team behind the viral video.

Brood XIX periodical cicadas have showed up in force in Alabama, photographed April 30, 2024. (Alabama Extension / Flickr Creative Commons)

Cicada Watch 2024 is reaching fever pitch in the Chicago region, where Brood XIII periodical cicadas are expected to burst from the ground by the millions, any day now. Here’s what’s in store.

A periodical cicada nymph, flushed from its tunnel is pictured on April 28, 2024, in Cook County’s Palos preserve system. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

It’s not uncommon for some cicadas to jump the gun, experts said. Recent sightings, especially after last weekend’s rains, aren’t a sign that the mass emergence has started. 

Hordes of female periodical cicadas will be laying their eggs in small tree branches. (Armed Forces Pest Management Board / Flickr Creative Commons)

Young trees could be vulnerable to damage from the emergence of millions of periodical cicadas in Illinois this spring. Here are tips on how to protect your trees.

Adult spotted lanternfly. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)

The insect was found in the Fuller Park neighborhood of Chicago, according to a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

A colony of ants formed their own life raft, seen in Hickory Creek Preserve in Will County. (Courtesy of Meagan Crandall)

If their nests become waterlogged, ants will evacuate and form a waterproof ball that floats on the surface until the waters recede.