Get ready, Central Illinois—the cicadas are coming. The cicadas that were born 17 years ago are about to emerge in parts of seven counties in the state. Once they’re out, University of Illinois entomologist Phil Nixon says they’ll be hard to ignore, as the males “sing” to attract females. “If you’re going by on a highway and they’re in the trees nearby, you’ll hear it even though the windows are up on the car and you’ve got air conditioning on,” Nixon said. “So they’re quite noisy, according to some people, or beautiful singers, according to others.”
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The males will be out for two or three weeks before dying, with the females sticking around to lay eggs. Once those eggs hatch, the cicada nymphs will burrow into the ground and stay there until 2031. Nixon says this emergence of cicadas is smaller than those in Southern and Northern Illinois, and will be most noticeable in Henderson and Warren counties, along with parts of Fulton, Schuyler, Knox, DeWitt, and Champaign counties. In those areas, cicadas will cause some interesting ecological effects as other animals find a new and abundant food source. “Fishermen will find out that the fish will not bite when these insects are out” because they’re so stuffed with cicadas, Nixon said.
That effect will be evened out once the cycle is over, as some animal populations that were able to grow due to feeding on cicadas will be thinned by starvation once the insects are gone.