How bad will cicadas be? West Loop/Greektown, Chicago, late May 2024
April 4, 2024 8:19 PM   Subscribe

I made potential plans to celebrate an anniversary of sorts with my husband in Chicago at the end of May. I knew cicadas were coming this year, but as I live well out of the way of anywhere they would be, it wasn't in my mind until I saw a headline about two broods emerging simultaneously in Illinois around that time. this going to be awful?

I've read elsewhere that the broods will actually be offset by a few weeks, but I'm still wondering about how it will be in general. We would be doing some walking around the area and staying near Greektown / the I-90/I-290 interchange.

I realize nobody can predict with certainty; just trying to get a gut feeling if we're going to have cicadas crawling all over us as we walk around, or if it's just going to be an incessant background hum.
posted by tubedogg to Travel & Transportation around Chicago, IL (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure if you've experienced a cicada emergence before, but presuming not--

no, no, it's not going to be bad. It's going to be wonderful. Even today I still fondly remember the experience of being swarmed by Brood X back in 2004; I lament the place I live today has nothing of the sort! Perhaps I'm simply unusual, but I would consider it not something "bad" but an experience to be treasured.

They probably won't be crawling on you, by the way. They prefer plants to people.
posted by etealuear_crushue at 8:35 PM on April 4 [16 favorites]

Best answer: It's really hard to say! During the last emergence we lived on the far north side of Chicago just south of Evanston and saw absolutely none near our house. A few miles north in Wilmette they were EVERYWHERE - it was hard to walk on the sidewalk without squishing them. I'm betting that closer to downtown there may not be as many as in the burbs, but that could vary by neighborhood; I live in a different neighborhood now well south of our old place and I'm not sure what to expect!
posted by sencha at 8:41 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]

Best answer: We've had a wacky spring so far here in Chicago, and I've been through a few big summers of cicadas (this will be my third XIII) and I'm pretty confident they will still be in the ground in May. They emerge in late June or early July. If they do come early whatever hum you may hear in Greektown will be drowned out by the traffic on the Kennedy Expessway.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:24 PM on April 4 [2 favorites]

Best answer: If you're gonna be solely in the city you may not even notice; my understanding is the cicadas are mostly in undisturbed soil and the city has little soil and most of it very disturbed. They don't travel far so if you're gonna mostly be surrounded by concrete the numbers will be small. That was my experience last time we had a "omg big cicada emergence" event here; I was in a fairly lush area of the north side and while yes there were a lot of cicadas that year, it didn't really seem out of range of the normal ebb and flow of cicada numbers in any given year. Definitely not the 'crunchpocalypse walking down the sidewalk' or 'outdoor weddings disturbed by the constant droning' that some were experiencing out in the burbs.

And yeah, I agree with JoeZydeco that May sounds really early for cicadas too.
posted by misskaz at 5:19 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]

Best answer: There will be two broods in Illinois but the overlap will be in central Illinois, maybe reaching the south suburbs of Chicago.

I agree that May seems early for cicadas but that is what the articles are predicting.
posted by hydrophonic at 5:58 AM on April 5 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I have lived in cicada territory most of my life and have never seen them crawling all over anybody. They are usually up the in trees making noise, which is just like a summertime noise. Maybe with the big broods the noise is louder and you might see more of them on the sidewalks/ground, but they have zero interest in people and do not go out of their way to get on/around people. They don't like fly around in swarms and bother people, if that is what you are picturing. They buzz around in the trees for the most part.
posted by Mid at 7:15 AM on April 5 [7 favorites]

Best answer: I would suspect that a lot of the cicadas were disrupted/removed during the construction of the Circle Interchange (I-290/I-90/94) project, in addition to just regular development.

I don’t think you’ll hear a thing at that location.
posted by Huggiesbear at 8:30 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Really appreciate all the feedback. I'm not sure I will consider it as positive of an experience as etealuear_crushue does :D but at the same time, I'm way less nervous about it being a problem.
posted by tubedogg at 3:04 PM on April 5

Response by poster: As a follow-up, we went this past week and there were no cicadas that we saw anywhere, even in the suburbs. However, driving through some woods on Touhy Ave just off of I-294 in Park Ridge, there was a nearly deafening sound that I believe was cicadas. Like crickets, but 100x louder and in the middle of the day. That was the only time we encountered that, though.
posted by tubedogg at 1:58 PM on June 3

We have zero so far in the city, but I have heard reports that downstate and suburbs have tons. Glad they were not a problem!
posted by Mid at 2:52 PM on June 3

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