Get Ready, an Insane Number of Cicadas Are Coming to Tennessee in 2024

A macro head shot of a 17-year cicada

A macro head shot of a 17-year cicada (photo by Georgi Baird/shutterstock.com

A record-breaking billions to trillions of cicadas are set to emerge this spring

The cicadas are coming. How many cicadas? As someone who has spent way too much of his life worrying about cicadas, I can say officially, it’s a buttload. 

In Spring of 2024, a pair of specific cicada broods will be hatching at the same time for the first time in 221 years. NBC says billions of the insects – Time says trillions – will appear across the Southeast and Midwest starting in April. It’s a specific event that last happened when Thomas Jefferson was president. 

A map of cicada broods in Tennessee
Graphic by TheSmokies.com with data from the US Forest Service

What to know about cicadas

Cicadas are insects known for both their noise and the long time it takes for them to reach adulthood. There are 3,000 species of Cicada around the world – including two kinds of hairy cicadas in Australia. Mental note: Do not go to Australia for any reason. In North America, male cicadas are known for the noises that can drive you insane in the spring and summer months. The noises – described as ticks, buzzes or whines by the Encyclopedia Britannica – are made by vibrating membranes. 

The females of the species lay eggs in woody plant tissue. The hatchlings burrow into the ground and feed on perennials for the perfectly normal time of 13 or 17 years. Then they emerge from the ground like some kind of flying locust-cricket zombies who start the process all over again. Oh, and they also shed their outer layer leaving cicada-shaped crunchy exoskeletons all over the place.

a periodical cicada on a finger
Cicadas are known for the loud buzzing made by vibrating membranes (SB SHOTS/shutterstock.com)

What such a large Brood?

Didn’t we just have a record number of cicadas? Kind of. In 2021, it was a big deal around the mountains. Brood X – a different brood of 17-year-cicadas – was emerging from the ground to ick us all out. This year, we get a 13-year-brood and another 17-year-brood synching up. It will be cicada-fest 2024 featuring a pair of broods that live geographically close to each other, overlapping in Illinois. So, say a prayer for those poor bastards.  

It turns out we name Cicada broods like we do Super Bowls. Brood X equaled Brood 10. According to the National Parks Service, in 2021 there were 12 broods of 17-year cicadas and three broods of 13-year cicadas. The broods are marked by their life cycle and geographical location. According to an article produced by the University of Connecticut, broods are neither species nor populations. 

“They are best described as regional, multispecies groupings of periodical cicadas that emerge on a common schedule,” the article states. I think the phrase “best describes” is doing a lot of heavy lifting there. 

In Tennessee we will only have to deal with Brood XIX – that’s Brood 19 to us non-Romans. After growing underground for 13 years, tunnel en masse to the surface when soil temps reach 64 degrees F. The four different species of 13-year cicadas in the brood will then mate, lay eggs, make noise, shed their exoskeletons, and die. The brood last appeared in 2013.  

Brood XIII is a 17-year brood that last emerged in 2007. While a 13-year-brood and a 17-year brood hatch in the same year about every five or six years, these specific broods hatch at the same time once every 221. The next time these two broods will emerge in the same year will be the year 2245. 

“The next time these two broods will emerge in the same year will be the year 2245.”

– John Gullion, Contributor, TheSmokies.com
A larva cicada emerging from the ground
A larva cicada emerging from the ground (rikrik/shutterstock.com)

Where will they hatch?

In the deep, dark crevices of my nightmares, leaving their creepy, crunchy exoskeletons in the hollows of my soul. But, also, Brood XIX will eventually spread from Virginia across most of the Southeast and into Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri and yes, Illinois. Brood XIII is mostly in Illinois but also exists in Southern Wisconsin, parts of Iowa and around Gary, Indiana. If for some reason you want to see two different broods of cicada in proximity, make your way to Central Illinois before July 1. 

Also, if the reason you’re asking is you want to eat the buggers, you should get them early in the season. The folks at Montclair State University – where they need to get a hobby – say cicadas are best young. They are tastiest right after they’ve shed into their adult forms. Get them while they are still pale white before their exoskeletons have hardened. 

“You only thought we were done with cicada nonsense back in 2021. But that was just the beginning.”

– John Gullion, Contributor, TheSmokies.com

You only thought we were done with cicada nonsense back in 2021. But that was just the beginning. Now the allegedly delicious Brood XIX is coming to the mountains and most of the Southeast in the billions. Brood XIII will hatch in the Midwest and Northern Illinois, marking the first time since 1803 that these broods have hatched in the same season.

TheSmokies.com

Subscribe to our newsletter for area news, coupons and discounts

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Please wait...

Thank you for sign up!

Have a question or comment about something in this article? Contact our staff here. You may also contact our editorial team at info@thesmokies.com.

instagram
tiktok
youtube
flipboard

Disclosure: We have used and experienced all the products and activities recommended on The Smokies. We may receive compensation when you click on links to some products and experiences featured.