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Chicago Cicada Watch Journal

Posted by barbararozgonyi on May 24, 2007


Cicada Watch is brought to you by CoryWest Media, a marketing/PR consultancy in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Entries and images by Barbara Rozgonyi, founder of CoryWest Media and animal/insect lover. Enjoy!


Since someone searched for “are cicadas still in Chicago” and found their way to this post, here’s the latest. Yes, they are still here – in some places.  On Saturday, we took a six mile hike through a forest preserve. The deeper the trail wound into the woods, the louder the cicadas became. In our backyard, the sound is definitely way, way down. While we can hear the cicadas, we haven’t spotted any lately. Two weeks ago, I got back to gardening – I didn’t want to disturb the cicadas on my plants – and found only shells. My guess is that the final wave is on its way out.


On June 30, I took a long walk looking for the last few cicadas. Whenever I heard a tree buzzing, I stopped and looked until I could peer into a set of orange eyes. We left for vacation on July 3 – and I was convinced I’d never see or hear a cicada again. On the way to the airport, we read the Trib’s editorial and shared the same sense of fondness they did.

Yesterday, when we got home, I thought I could hear a cicada. But, after all the rides at Universal Studios, I could’ve been hearing almost anything. Hot weather and a thunderstorm kept us from opening the windows so I couldn’t confirm my hunch.
Today’s cool breezes usher in all kinds of noises: the neighbor’s contractor’s circular saw, birds – and you guessed it, cicadas. While the chorus has died down to an occassional hum and a few intermittent low buzzes, they are – definitely – still here. At least in my backyard. A few minutes ago, I called my husband to tell him I spotted a cicada zooming over the garden. He thanked me for the call.


Happy first day of summer! Thanks to the 500 people who’ve read this post! Yes, the cicadas are still here and my netting is still flapping around needing a fix every other day or so. I’m wondering how much my family will suffer withdrawal from the cicadium rhythm while we’re in Florida in vacation. When we come back they should be gone. We’ll see what we hear . . .

06.05.07 Update

Check out Live Search image results for “cicada in Chicago.” Today, one of my images in the top row. When I find the time, I’ll upload an album. Although photography is my favorite hobby – not my primary occupation, I have sold some images, including a butterfly now being used by nicor.

Live Search image results for cicadas in Chicago. I like the way you can resize the images and add them to a scratchpad collection. Serious photographers would want to add a watermark or copyright to prevent unapproved use of their images.

06.04.07 Update

You can’t make noise when your wings are wet. . . if you’re a cicada. Today, a mid-afternoon thunderstorm drowned out the buzz for a few hours after the drenching.

And, I think the decibel meter hit its climax over the weekend.

“Deafening” is the only word that describes the rising and unceasing roar settled in the trees at the back of our property. On Saturday, our graduation party guests ventured out only to examine the cicada shells and mating pairs on our deck for brief visits. Then, it was back inside to the blaring iPod pop music.

Visit the Chicago Tribune’s Cicada Central site for videos, photos and the latest – a blue-eyed cicada.

05.29.07 Update

ABC News cicada videos

Video facts: 1.5 million per acre; each one can make a sound as loud as a motorcyle or lawnmower; 1 calorie each and high in protein; shows people drink cicadatinis

Animals at Brookfield Zoo crunch on cicadas from Yahoo! News

“These days, a host of animals from bearded dragon lizards to African wild dogs to white-crested laughing thrush birds are enjoying cicadas.”

Congrats to Brookfield Zoo, our favorite, for their “cicada smorgasbord” coverage.


It’s beautiful, really. Not the bugs, they’re not here yet. It’s the netting that drapes, shapes and hugs shrubberies and trees. Protective veiling . . . in black, pink, white, green and teal cloaks woody matter that wears green only in warmer seasons. Although my middle son, our in-house forestry expert, is concerned about the cicadas eating our already half-dead small river birch, I am not. There’s no tellling what they’ll decide to eat so why should I net my trees?


Made an emergency run to get tulle for the trees. Jo Ann Fabrics is sold out of netting at all of their stores in the area. Calls to other fabric stores confirmed my husband’s hunch: there is a run on netting. Found a store that said they were stocked, but I had to get there – fast. Bought 12 yards of cranberry bridal viel fabric at $1.99/yard – with a 30% discount. Grabbed two spools of pink ribbon to dress up the trees. Also snagged four new lamps at 70% off – total cost: $81.62


Several cicadas lounging on the deck chairs. Net from the trees opens. I close it up. Driving out of the driveway to play practice, my daughter notices that I am trapping cicadas in with the trees. I free two cicadas and rewrap the tree.

Squirrels and chipmunks charge the house – one tries to get in the dining room window. I make a tray of mini peanut butter sandwiches and toss them around the back yard.

Climbing the hill of stairs to the high school, my family avoids the carcesses and we make no attempt to count the thousands of casualties.


Walking to school in a strange, jerky movies, high school students appear to have been affected with a strange silly walk virus overnight. I realize they’re attempting to dodge dead cicadas.

At 9:17 a.m., I hear a strange buzzing in the house. A cicada is on the floor of our dining room. Grabbing a plastic A&W root beer cup, I trap the critter and release it outdoors. The cat is very disappointed. . . will think about capturing a few friends for her to play with now that she is an indoor cat.

Caught ten cicadas – inside one of my tree nets. Don’t know who’s happier they’re free – me or the bug-eyed bugs. My neighbor, Gloria the gardener, comes over to help me rewrap the tree for the third time. She assures me we’ve got it and thinks the ribbons are classy.

After we recloak the tree, she shows me all of the cicadas standing on end in her lawn. Although I’m wearing sandals, I tred lightly to get photos for the blog.

I’m wondering if I have enough chairs inside the house to hold all of party guests next weekend. There is no way they’ll want to walk on our lawn, especially if I don’t let it get mowed. I hate killing insects.

Connecting Cicadas to PR

Noisy . . . dramatic . . . eventful . . . massive . . . community-minded . . . cicadas attract and demand attention.

Cicadas on Wikipedia . . .

Cicadas are the most efficient and loudest sound-producing insects in the world. Conversely, some small species have songs so high in pitch that the noise is inaudible to humans. Only the males resound as a mating ritual to attract a female and many cicada species tend to gather when calling which increases the total volume of noise. Species have different mating songs to ensure they attract the appropriate mate.

Cicadae are unique in sound-producing insects in that they have a musical drum in their abdomen. The organs that produce sound are ‘tymbals‘ ~ paired membranes that are ribbed and located at the abdominal base. Contracting the internal tymbal muscles yield a pulse of sound as the tymbals buckle inwards. As these muscles relax, the tymbals return to their original position. The interior of the male abdomen is substantially hollow to amplify the resonance of the sound. The song intensity of the louder cicadas acts as an effective bird repellent. Males of many species tend to gather which net a greater sound intensity and engenders protection from avian predators.

In addition to the mating song, many species also have a distinct distress call, usually a somewhat broken and erratic sound emitted when an individual is seized. A number of species also have a courtship song, which is often a quieter call and is produced after a female has been drawn by the calling song.

Cicada Facts: Understanding the Invasion from National Geographic News

Cicadia Mania Blog

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One Response to “Chicago Cicada Watch Journal”

  1. […] Chicago Cicada Watch Journal […]

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