Kids & Parents

Cicada Questions?  We’ve Got Answers

Are You Ready for the Cicadas?

After a lot of anticipation, some excited and some nervous, Northern Illinois’ cicadas, known as Brood XIII, are beginning to emerge.

Brood XIII only comes out every 17 years – it’s what’s known as a periodical cicada.

This means that if your kids are younger than college age, they either missed the last time Brood XIII was above ground or are probably too young to remember it.

They may have some anxiety surrounding these gentle creatures and of course, many questions!

Don’t worry, our Youth Services Department has answers!

Can Cicadas Hurt You?

The great news is that cicadas are TOTALLY HARMLESS.

They can’t bite – instead of teeth their mouth just has a straw to slurp tree sap. And they don’t have stingers, or pinchers or any other defense mechanisms.  

How Long Will They Be Here?

The cicadas that we see are reaching the end of their life cycle. They've spent 17 years underground, but they will only be here for about 4-6 weeks.  

Any tips to help engage my kids with this cool phenomenon?

The cicada emergence is a fantastic opportunity to help your kids interact with nature.

Encourage them to be open-minded, observant, and curious about these amazing insects.

Watching cicadas will naturally lead to questions such as why do they molt, what do they eat and why are they so NOISY?  What a great way to spark conversations about nature and our world.

Want more fun?

Do a cicada scavenger hunt, an “I spy” game, or start a journal. Draw pictures, conduct an “interview” with a cicada or name the ones you see. You will probably need a lot of names, and don’t expect them to come when they are called!

Where Can I Learn More about Cicadas?

The Cicada Safari App

The Cicada Safari App

Help scientists by uploading your cicada sightings!

Apple Store

Google Play Store


Why Are Cicadas So Good At Math?

PBS Be Smart with Joe Hanson YouTube Video

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