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A rare cicada with blue eyes was seen during the 2024 emergence at an arboretum in suburban Chicago

Rare blue-eyed female Magicicada cassini cicada (Via Tom Wilson/Shutterstock)

In late morning, Kate Myroup, Senior Horticulturist at The Morton Arboretum, arrived at the Children’s Garden with a special visitor: a rare female Magicicada cassini cicada with blue eyes, spotted earlier by a visitor.

A fortunate few observed this cicada on Friday at the arboretum in Lisle, Illinois, before it was released back into suburban Chicago to join its more common red-eyed counterparts during the 2024 cicada emergence.

Upon opening its enclosure, the blue-eyed cicada took flight into a tree. It then descended to land on Stephanie Adams, a leader in plant health care, where curious young guests captured photos.

“It’s part of the job,” remarked Adams, who frequently interacts with these insects.

Rare blue-eyed female Magicicada cassini cicada (Via Tom Wilson/Shutterstock)

According to Floyd W. Shockley, collections manager at the Smithsonian’s Department of Entomology, blue-eyed cicadas are rare, although the exact rarity remains uncertain.

“It’s difficult to determine its rarity without collecting all cicadas to assess how many have the blue eye mutation,” Shockley explained.

Periodical cicadas emerge every 13 or 17 years, with the 17-year brood now starting to appear in locations as far north as Lisle. In these areas, three different species are emerging from the ground, attaching to trees, shedding their exoskeletons, and creating a spectacle.

“The sight of them on the trees, the sheer number, almost looks like something out of science fiction,” Adams observed. “It’s truly a sight to behold.”

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