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Published on May 23, 2024
Chicago Buzzes with Excitement as Rare Blue-Eyed Cicadas Emerge in Historic EventSource: Kelly Simkins/Merlin's Rockin' Pet Show

Chicago's neighborhoods have become the backdrop for a one-in-a-million natural phenomenon, as residents across the area are stumbling upon the rare blue-eyed cicadas, amid the insects' historic emergence this year. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, these unique insects have caught the eye of locals and entomologists alike, with their unusual eye color believed to result from a genetic mutation.

Kelly Simkins, who stumbled upon one of these rare creatures in the Orland Grasslands Forest Preserve, said, "The blue-eyed one just really stuck out there," in a statement obtained by the Chicago Tribune. Simkins, whose exotic pet collection includes snakes and tarantulas, was initially searching for cicadas as feed for her reptiles but plans to preserve the blue-eyed cicada if the Field Museum isn't interested in displaying it.

Echoing the rarity of these insects, Dr. Gene Kritsky, professor emeritus at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, noted the scarcity of the blue-eyed variety. "We have no idea about how rare they might be," Kritsky, who has seen just two photos of blue-eyed cicadas out of over 40,000 submissions to his app Cicada Safari this year, told the Sun-Times. The app was designed to help track the insects in the U.S.

Meanwhile, local enthusiast William Marx, 9, found a blue-eyed cicada outside his home in Chicago's Beverly neighborhood, capturing the find in photographs before releasing it back into the wild. This incident comes as two broods of cicadas emerge together for the first time in more than two centuries, a convergence that hasn't been seen in the region in 221 years, according to the Sun-Times. Despite, their unusual coloring, these cicadas play the same critical role in the ecosystem, feeding a variety of other animals and providing nutrients to gardens with their exoskeletons.

The cicadas' emergence has been highly anticipated by scientists and insect aficionados alike. For those fortunate enough to encounter a blue-eyed cicada, experts recommend taking a photo for digital documentation and considering preservation for scientific research to better understand this rare mutation. "If you want [the blue-eyed cicada] to be studied and better understood, then it would need to go to an entomologist who does research and you'd want to preserve that sample," Stephanie Adams of the Morton Arboretum, advised in an interview with the Sun-Times. Otherwise, they can be released back into nature to contribute to the local cicada population.