Self-guided cicada exhibit at The Grove will open May 4 and continue through September

What has wide-set red eyes, emits loud acoustic signals and emerges only every 17 years? The 17-year periodical cicada, of course. As the Brood XIII Periodical Cicada gets ready to buzz throughout our area, The Grove National Historic Landmark is celebrating this rare, natural phenomenon with the grand opening of a new free exhibit, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Saturday, May 4. Explore the phenomenal lifecycle of this fascinating insect with a full day of educational fun for the entire family.

The Cicada Celebration and exhibit has been 17 years in the making, since The Grove last saw the emergence of this species of periodical cicada in 2007, according to The Grove’s Director Lorin Ottlinger. The actual emergence date in 2024 is based on air and soil temperature.

“It remains a mystery, though, how all periodical cicadas instinctively and simultaneously know when it’s their time to shine,” says Ottlinger.

From May through June, over about a five-week period, 16 states will see a mass emergence of billions or even trillions of periodical cicadas. Northern Illinois will experience only one emergence, Brood XIII. Some areas of Central Illinois will be treated to a double emergence of Brood XIII, along with the 13-year cicada, Brood XIX. These two broods last appeared together in 1803 and won’t appear together again until 2245!

According to Ottlinger, periodical cicadas will emerge from their underground burrows and climb into the trees, where the males will start calling in search of females. After they mate, and the female cicadas lay eggs in tree branches, the adults will die, leaving behind a new generation. The nymphs will hatch and fall to the ground, where they burrow down and will live underground until the year 2041, when the next emergence occurs.

Cicadas do not bite, sting or swarm. They are a healthy part of the ecosystem, providing food to a variety of wildlife, and serve as an excellent source of fertilizer to plants. They are harmless to people and pets, and they are not locusts, which are a separate species related to grasshoppers. Young trees that are particularly susceptible to damage caused by egg-laying females can be covered with special insect netting.

“Children are especially fascinated by cicadas,” Ottlinger adds. “This year’s emergence will give them something to tell their kids and grandkids.”

At the Saturday, May 4 Cicada Celebration exhibit opening, kids and families can learn about the Magicicada, the Latin genus name for the 17-year cicada, through crafts and activities, special programming, giveaways and more.

Staff experts will be on-hand to answer questions. Mosaics, stained glass and other artwork depicting cicadas will be on display. Guests are invited to guess the number of cicada shells in a jar for a chance to win exciting prizes and pose with human-size cicada cut-outs for the perfect photo opportunity. T-shirts and other cicada merchandise are available for purchase in The Grove Store.

The free, self-guided cicada exhibit is available in the Archives Building at The Grove and will continue with weekend hours through September. The Grove has also scheduled several additional cicada-related programs during the emergence.

The exhibit includes a chart of past emergences in our area and other regions, the periodic cicada’s historical ties with The Grove (this will be the 12th documented appearance at The Grove), their role as food for both animals and humans, and a display of specimens collected in the area over the past 75 years.

The Grove is one of the best environments to study and learn about the 17-year periodical cicada because of its dense, old-growth forests and pristine, natural setting, according to Ottlinger. It also has a long association with the 17-year periodical cicada. Owned and operated by the Glenview Park District, the 123-acre site is the ancestral home of Illinois’ first naturalist Robert Kennicott, founder of the Chicago Academy of Sciences. Kennicott began collecting and sending specimens to the Smithsonian Institution and other museums in the 1850s. A later relative of the Kennicott family, naturalist and writer Donald Culross Peattie, wrote extensively about the cicada’s 1922 emergence at The Grove.

special programs

When: F, June 7, 7:30-9 pm
Where: The Grove National Historic Landmark, Archives Building
Fee (R/NR): $22/$24, registration required

Join The Grove for an night of exploration, libation and natural wonder at Hops & Hike: Broods and Brew. Discover the fascinating world of Brood XIII periodical cicadas – a spectacle that occurs only once every 17 years. Enjoy craft beer tasting and camaraderie around the campfire as we are serenaded by the mating call of nature’s Romeo! Then it’s time to hit the trails on a guided evening hike. For ages 21+.

When: F, June 7, 6-7 pm
Where: The Grove National Historic Landmark, Program Barn
Fee (R/NR): Free, but registration is required and seating is limited

Cicadas are here! Discover what all the buzz is about from Dr. Cicada himself! University of Connecticut-Hartford entomologist John Cooley, Ph.D. will be visiting The Grove and presenting an engaging, educational, hands-on cicada adaptive program for all. Brood XIII’s exact emergence dates are unclear so stay in the know!