With all of the press coverage over the last year, I knew that the coming emergence this spring of two cicada broods, Brood XIII and Brood XIX, would be big, but I had no idea how big or how historical this whole event is going to be.

This sort of thing hasn't happened in over 220 years, and for those of us living in Illinois, we're lucky enough to have a front row seat for all of the cicada-related festivities.

One thing to note is that even though there's been lots of discussion about the impending cicada emergence, you're not hearing very much about one aspect of having that many cicadas hanging around: their pee (or urine, if you'd prefer).

A hand picks up cicadas from a bucket.
Getty Images

If Billions And Billions Of Somewhat Creepy Looking Bugs That Will Produce Noise In Excess Of 100 Decibels Day After Day Isn't Enough To Bother You, How About The Fact That They'll Be Peeing Everywhere, Including On You And Your Pets

Here's basically how it breaks down. Cicadas, like many creatures, need to regulate their body temperature, and to do so they drink a lot of something called xylem. Xylem is, according to Vocabulary.com, "hollow, tube-like tissue, almost like tiny pipes that carry water and minerals to every part of a plant."

So the cicadas load up on the water and minerals in the xylem to cool off, and then once they're cool, they quickly squirt the stuff right back out. That's no problem if there are just a few cicadas doing it, but when a few hundred thousand or a million cicadas do it, it's really pretty noticeable.

Especially if you're right under them when it happens. And, since cicadas spend a lot of time in trees...

Cheerful woman under pink umbrella checking for rain
Somebody's got a palm full of cicada pee! (Getty Images)

Here's The Bad News-Good News Scenario Illinoisans: The Bad News Is That Cicadas Are Going To Be Peeing Freely And Will Probably Pee On You, While The Good News Is That Cicada Pee Is Basically Harmless

When you think about it, so is human pee--but I still don't want to be a target for it.


Standing beneath a tree buzzing with cicadas on a hot day can feel like being caught in a rain shower. Though getting doused with cicada juice isn't exactly pleasant, it won't hurt you. The "pee" is actually excrement commonly known as honeydew. The sticky, sap-like substance is high in sugar, so wear a hat when you're walking through the great outdoors if you don't want the stuff on your hair or face.

The pee from the Brood X cicadas native to the eastern U.S. is more of a spritz, but in other species, it's a full stream.

If you doubt me, check out this video so you can see what to expect here in Illinois in just a few weeks (the serious peeing begins at the :35 mark):

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