Cicadas Will Be In Illinois Soon, Bug Experts Say “Eat Them”
It looks like Rockford and the rest of Northern Illinois will be spared from a huge onslaught of cicadas this year, but we're due for a huge visit in 2024.
Just because our area will have a limited amount of nature's noisemakers popping out of the ground this year after their 17-year nap doesn't mean that other parts of our state are going to have the same luck.
A brood of cicadas known as Brood X, or The Great Eastern Brood, will breaking ground by the billions from below in five counties in central and eastern Illinois starting in late April. The affected counties include Edgar, Clark, Crawford, Vermilion, and Champaign, according to a cicada mapping site from the University of Connecticut. This brood was last seen downstate in 2004. Doing the math, that would be 17 years. Indiana and Ohio will see the largest swaths of cicadas showing up.
So, we've got Brood X coming in a month or so to parts of the state, while here in Northern Illinois, we've got to wait another three years before we get a turn at dealing with billions of cicadas when Brood XIII starts coming out in and around the Rockford area. CicadaMania.com says that "Periodical cicada Brood XIII (13) will emerge in the spring of 2024 in Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and possibly Michigan. The last time this brood emerged was in 2007."
If you've been around for awhile, you may remember dealing with cicadas in the past. You probably swept them up off your driveway, sidewalks, patios, or decks and tossed them into the trash. Instead of that, you could have been eating them.
Isa Betancourt is an entomologist from the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, and she suggests that cicadas are a rare delicacy that's nutritious, containing high protein, low fat, and lots of muscle.
She calls cicadas the shrimp of the land.
"They are arthropods, which means they have an exoskeleton," she said. "We regularly eat the arthropods of the sea and those are the shrimp, lobsters and crabs. And so cicadas are arthropods too."
I spend a few minutes looking around the web for ideas on how to prepare cicadas, and I'll admit to be surprised at how many different ways there are to serve up these little guys. You can cover them in chocolate, you can toss them in a wok, you can use them as a pizza topping, and so much more.