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periodical cicada (17-year) Brood XIII

2024 Brood XIII cicada. Image taken in Glencoe, IL, June 1, 2024.

periodical cicada (Magicicada sp.)

Almost every wooded area of Illinois is inhabited by a brood of periodical cicadas. Three species of periodical cicadas have 17-year life cycles: Magicicada septendecim, M. cassini, and M. septendecula. Cicadas have broad heads, large compound eyes, large, tent-like wings, and large forelegs. Annual cicadas can be heard every year, but periodical species only occur in mass every 13 or 17 years. Periodical cicadas are 0.75 to 1.5 inches long; are green and brown, or green and black bodied. Annual cicadas are larger (1.5 to 2.5 inches long) and have black bodies, red eyes, and wings with orange veins. These three species are best distinguished by their distributions and songs. These species are most easily distinguished by their songs. 

  • Magiciada septendecim is the largest of the genus; has complete, orange bands on the underside of the abdomen; and an orange spot on the side of the thorax, behind each eye. This species is found in the northern half of Illinois. The calling song sounds like the word "Pharaoh" being spoken. 
  • Magicicada septendecula has narrow, orange bands on underside the abdomen, and no orange color spot in front of wing behind the eye. They occur in Central Illinois and are the least common of the three species. Their song lasts 15-30 seconds and is distinctly different from the other species of 17-year cicadas. Their calls are very similar to M. septendecula
  • Magicicada cassini has no color spot behind eye and an entirely black abdomen. Their song is several clicks followed by a buzz. They are found in the Northern half of Illinois. 

Every 17 years, mature nymphs emerge from up to eight inches below the ground when soil temperatures reach 60 degrees Fahrenheit, typically in the evening, and climb onto trees and shrubs to begin their final molt. Cicadas emerge at night to avoid becoming prey, as they cannot walk fast or jump well. Cicadas live for two to four weeks in this final adult stage. Males “sing” to find a mate and have highly specialized abdomens for making noise — they vibrate a pair of ribbed membranes on their mostly hollow abdomen, which amplifies the song. Songs are species-specific and only attract females of the same species. Cicadas can be heard singing during the day or evening. After mating, females cut small slits into the branches of trees and shrubs and deposit eggs. Eggs can take up to 100 days to hatch, then the nymphs drop to the ground and burrow into the soil. Nymphs and adults drink sap from trees by making small cuts in the bark.

Illinois Range


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hemiptera
Family: Cicadidae

Illinois Status: common, native


University of Conneticut. Brood XIII The Northern Illinois Brood

Alexander, Richard D. and Moore, Thomas E. The Evolutionary Relationships of 17-Year and 13-Year Cicadas, and Three New Species (Homoptera, Cicadidae, Magicidada). 1962, July 24. Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan.

Stannard Jr., Lewis J. 1975. The Distribution of Periodical Cicadas in Illinois. Illinois Natural History Survey. 

Resh, Vincent H. and Cardé, Ring T. 2003. Encyclopedia of Insects. Academic Press.

Arnett Jr., Ross H. 2000. American Insects: A Handbook to the Insects of America North of Mexico. CRC Press. 

Periodical Cicadas. 2011. The Simon Lab. University of Connecticut.