The moment has arrived.

After years underground, periodical cicadas — insects of the genus Magicicada — are emerging by the trillions across more than a dozen states to molt, sing, court and mate. A casual human listener could mistake their collective chorus for the sound of a U.F.O. landing:

But to the individual cicada, what’s underway is a courtship ritual as intimate and intricate as a tango. The stakes are high; the potential missteps are many.


Review the guest list

This year, in a rare “dual emergence,” two groups of periodical cicadas are in attendance: Brood XIII, or the Northern Illinois Brood, comprising as many as three species of 17-year cicada in some locations, and Brood XIX, the Great Southern Brood, comprising up to four species of 13-year cicada. Their songs — like those of Magicicada septendecim and Magicicada neotredecim, below — can sound deceptively similar:

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