Adult periodical cicada
Adult periodical cicadas.
Shed exoskeletons of periodical cicadas on the ground.

Periodical Cicadas in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Periodical Cicada website is a comprehensive source of information about the 2024 emergence of Brood XIII (17-Year) cicadas in Wisconsin.

This spring offers an amazing opportunity to experience the rare emergence of periodical cicadas in Wisconsin.  With their extended 17-year life cycles, Wisconsinites only have a handful of opportunities in their lives to observe this natural phenomenon in the Badger state and after 2024, our next chance won’t be until 2041.  This website will give you a glimpse into the biology and ecology of these fascinating insects, what the experience will be like, when & where to go looking for periodical cicadas, and more.

Close your eyes and immerse yourself in the audio below to start the Wisconsin cicada experience.


Adult periodical cicada
Adult periodical cicada. Photo credit: PM Jacoby via Wikipedia. Used under Creative Commons 4.0 license.

2024 Cicada Events:

Cicadapalooza Pop-up Event
Saturday, June 8th, 12 – 4:30 PM at the Lake Geneva Public Library

UW-Entomology will be hosting a cicada-themed pop-up event celebrating these insects (details)

Webinar: The Buzz About Wisconsin’s Periodical Cicadas
May 15 (recording)

Extension entomologist PJ Liesch dove into the biology and ecology of Wisconsin’s periodical cicadas.

Live Q&A with Discover Magazine
May 10 (recording)

PJ Liesch held a live Q&A session with Discover Magazine about 2024’s big cicada emergence.

Radio: The Larry Meiller Show
April 17 (recording)

Extension entomologist, PJ Liesch, joined WPR’s The Larry Meiller Show to discuss 2024’s emergence of periodical cicadas.

Radio: The Morning Show
April 15 (recording)

DNR Entomologist and Forest Health Specialist, Mike Hillstrom, joined WPR’s The Morning Show to talk about periodical cicadas.

Periodical Cicadas 101:

For a crash course on the biology of periodical cicadas, this short historical (1939) classroom video from the USDA (and preserved by the Library of Congress) is an oldie-but-a-goodie.

Scientists have been studying periodical cicadas for hundreds of years, so many aspects of their biology have been documented well over a century ago. Nonetheless, researchers are learning new things about these amazing insects all the time.

A Primer on Periodical Cicadas:

Periodical cicadas get their name from their extended life cycles and predictable mass emergences.   Depending on the species, their life cycles require either 17 or 13 years to complete.  With the length of time between emergences, this posed challenges to scientists trying to study these creatures—a lucky adult human might only get to witness a given brood’s emergence a handful of times in their lives!  While some of the first written reports of periodical cicadas date back to the early 1600’s, it was around 1900 that scientists adopted our current numbering system used to group these insects.  Scientists now sort these cicadas into broods (cohorts) based on when they emerge to better keep track of them; these broods are labeled with Roman numerals.

There are currently 15 extant broods of periodical cicadas.  Of these, 12 broods have 17-year life cycles and 3 broods have 13-year life cycles.  The 17-year broods have a more northern distribution, while the 13-year broods have a more southern distribution.  In certain locations, 17-year and 13-year broods overlap and occasionally emerge in the same year.  This year (2024) is unique as Brood XIII (17-year) and Brood XIX (13-year) periodical cicadas will both emerge and their ranges will overlap in central Illinois.  The last time these two broods emerged at the same time was in the year 1803, when Thomas Jefferson was President of the United States and the Louisiana Purchase had just been made.  The US Forest Service has an excellent color-coded map (shown below) to better illustrate the overall distribution of periodical cicada broods in the US.

Map of periodical cicada broods in the US
Map credit: Liebhold, A. M., Bohne, M. J., and R. L. Lilja. 2013. Active Periodical Cicada Broods of the United States. USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station, Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry.

Brood XIII in Wisconsin:

Brood XIII is the only brood of periodical cicadas that emerges in Wisconsin; these have 17-year life cycles. Brood XIII cicadas emerged most recently in 2007 and will emerge again this year (2024). Previously this brood emerged in 1990, 1973, 1956, 1939, 1922, 1888, and 1871, with some early records dating back to 1854 in the state (a mere 6 years after Wisconsin gained statehood) and even 1837.

Adult periodical cicada pinned specimen.
Periodical cicada from the Wisconsin Insect Research Collection. Photo credit: PJ Liesch, UW Insect Diagnostic Lab

Looking more closely, there are technically 7 different species of periodical cicadas—three species that undergo 17-year life cycles and four species with 13-year life cycles.  These closely resemble each other in appearance and can occur in similar spots. Based on specimens in the Wisconsin Insect Research Collection, the species most likely to be encountered in Wisconsin is Magicicada septendecim.

Drawer of pinned cicada specimens from the Wisconsin Insect Research Collection.
Preserved periodical cicada specimens from the Wisconsin Insect Research Collection. Photo credit: PJ Liesch, UW Insect Diagnostic Lab.

Continue to the Cicada Basics page to learn more about the biology of Wisconsin’s cicadas.

Banner photo credits:
JanetandPhil via Flickr; Creative Commons license 2.0 DEED.
ARS Information Staff. via Wikipedia; public domain photo.
James St. John via Wikipedia; Creative Commons license 4.0.