Media Tip Sheet: Historic Emergence of Cicadas Set to Happen This Year in U.S. Midwest & South

January 26, 2024

two adult cicadas

Two adult cicadas on a plant in Washington, D.C. Credit: Martha Weiss/Georgetown University

For the first time in over two centuries, scientists are anticipating a historic convergence of two broods of periodical cicadas, Brood XIII and Brood XIX, that are scheduled to emerge at the same time in the U.S. Midwest and South in the late spring, early summer of 2024. It’s an event that last occurred in 1803.

GW's John Lill

John Lill is a professor of biology at the George Washington University. His expertise includes plant-insect interactions, insect ecology and evolution. Lill’s research interests focus on the ecology and evolution of plant-herbivore interactions and more specifically, understanding the joint impacts of host plant traits and natural enemies on insect herbivore life history traits, behavior, population dynamics, and host plant ranges.  

In particular, Lill and his colleagues have focused their research efforts on cicadas. Lill’s latest research on the ecological impacts of cicada emergences was published last fall in the journal Science. In this study, Lill and his co-researchers quantified the widespread changes the 2021 periodical cicada emergence had on the feeding patterns of birds and its downstream effects. The research team said this was one of only a few studies that has explored the indirect effects of periodical cicada emergence events on forest food webs.

Lill can discuss the cicada emergence events happening this spring, including the  historical emergence of cicadas set to happen in the U.S. Midwest. He and his colleagues will be in Chicago this June to further their studies of cicadas.

“They’re going to meet each other for the first time in a couple of centuries. Who knows what will happen? Maybe they’ll hybridise. Every biologist interested in cicadas will be there. It’s very exciting,” Lill said in a recent interview with BBC Wildlife.

If you would like to speak with Prof. Lill, please contact GW Senior Media Relations Specialist Cate Douglass at [email protected].