The 2024 Cicadas: A Rare Synchronized Event Unfolding in Maryland


 In the spring of 2024, Maryland is set to witness a remarkable natural phenomenon that hasn’t occurred since the early 19th century. Billions of periodical cicadas from two distinct broods will emerge simultaneously: 

Brood XIII (Northern Illinois Brood):17-year cicadas -Primarily found in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and a portion of Michigan. A reunion of sorts for this “graduating class” that emerges every 17 years. Their emergence is like the insect world’s “spectacular, macabre Mardi Gras,” spanning late April through June. After their noisy debut, they focus on reproduction before their brief lifespan ends.

Brood XIX (Great Southern Brood)13-year cicadas Distributed across a much larger area, touching 15 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. These cicadas follow a similar pattern: emerge, reproduce, and then perish within four to six weeks. By July 1, they will have vanished entirely.

    Cicadas spend most of their lives as immature nymphs underground. Their extraordinarily long life cycle, the longest of any insect on the planet, has allowed the species to survive for an impressive 1.8 million years—from the Pleistocene Epoch to the present day.

    The last time such a synchronized emergence occurred was way back in 1803. Imagine the astonishment of those early observers as the landscape buzzed with the rhythmic hum of countless cicadas. Now, in 2024, we have the privilege of witnessing this rare event once more.

    Late April through mid-May: That’s when the soil temperatures in Maryland should reach about 64 degrees Fahrenheit—the signal for cicadas to start tunneling toward the surface. Keep your ears tuned for their unmistakable chorus during this period.

      Cicadas play a crucial role in forest ecosystems. Their emergence provides a feast for predators, including birds, mammals, and even fungi. As they die, their bodies enrich the soil, contributing to nutrient cycling.

      Cicadas have inspired art, literature, and folklore across cultures. Their periodic appearances have become part of our collective memory. While their song can be deafening, it’s a testament to their survival strategy. Some find their presence enchanting, while others may consider it a temporary inconvenience.

        As the soil warms and the days lengthen, prepare for the symphony of cicadas—their ancient song echoing through time. 


        1. Billions Of Cicadas From 2 Broods To Emerge In Maryland In 2024
        2. Cicadas in Maryland | University of Maryland Extension.  
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        3. Images sourced from Google Images
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