As the third graders of Cumberland Elementary in the Chicago suburbs colored, clipped and glued paper to make cicadas with filmy wings, they confided their fears about what is about to happen in Illinois.

“Some people think cicadas can suck your brains out,” said Willa, a red-haired 8-year-old in a Star Wars T-shirt.

“They’re going to be so loud,” Christopher, 9, said as he colored his cicada intently. “I hate noise.”

“It’s kind of scary,” Madison, 8, said while picking through markers scattered on a green table. “What if they do something to me?”

Not to worry, Madison and Willa: Cicadas don’t actually bite, and they prefer to suck tree sap. (And Christopher, earplugs might come in handy.)

Illinois is the center of the cicada emergence in the United States, the only state that will experience cicadas nearly everywhere and see two adjacent broods — Brood XIX, or the Great Southern Brood, and Brood XIII, or the Northern Illinois Brood — come up from the soil at once. The dual emergence of the two groups of cicadas is happening for the first time since 1803, and expected to last about six weeks.


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