Rare blue-eyed cicada spotted during 2024 emergence at suburban Chicago arboretum

rare blue-eyed cicada spotted during 2024 emergence at suburban chicago arboretum

Live cicadas swarm with exoskeletons on a tree at the Morton Arboretum, Friday, May 24, 2024, in Lisle, Ill. (AP Photo/Erin Hooley)

LISLE, Ill. (AP) — It was late morning when The Morton Arboretum's Senior Horticulturist Kate Myroup arrived at the Children’s Garden with a special guest: a rare, blue-eyed female Magicicada cassini cicada, spotted earlier in the day by a visitor.

rare blue-eyed cicada spotted during 2024 emergence at suburban chicago arboretum

Cicadas perch on a tree at the Morton Arboretum, Friday, May 24, 2024, in Lisle, Ill. (AP Photo/Erin Hooley)

A lucky few saw the cicada Friday at the arboretum in Lisle, Illinois, before its release back into the world in suburban Chicago to join its red-eyed relatives, the more common look for most cicada species, as the 2024 cicada emergence gets underway.

rare blue-eyed cicada spotted during 2024 emergence at suburban chicago arboretum

Cicadas hang out on leaves at the Morton Arboretum, Friday, May 24, 2024, in Lisle, Ill. (AP Photo/Erin Hooley)

As the enclosure opened, the blue-eyed lady took flight into a tree. The unique bug then flew down to land on the pants of Stephanie Adams, plant health care leader. Intrigued young guests snapped photos.

rare blue-eyed cicada spotted during 2024 emergence at suburban chicago arboretum

Gregg Kulma, right, of Denver, and Bill Kibler of Joliet observe hundreds of cicadas on a tree at Morton Arboretum Friday, May 24, 2024, in Lisle, Ill. (AP Photo/Erin Hooley)

“It’s a casualty of the job,” said Adams, who frequently is decorated with the bugs.

rare blue-eyed cicada spotted during 2024 emergence at suburban chicago arboretum

A young tree wears a protective net to ward off egg-laying cicadas Friday, May 24, 2024, in Lisle, Ill. (AP Photo/Erin Hooley)

Floyd W. Shockley, collections manager of the Department of Entomology at the Smithsonian Institute, said the blue-eyed cicada is rare, but just how rare is uncertain.

rare blue-eyed cicada spotted during 2024 emergence at suburban chicago arboretum

A blue-eyed cicada perches on a plant at the Morton Arboretum, Friday, May 24, 2024, in Lisle, Ill. (AP Photo/Erin Hooley)

“It is impossible to estimate how rare since you’d have to collect all the cicadas to know what percentage of the population had the blue eye mutation,” he said.

rare blue-eyed cicada spotted during 2024 emergence at suburban chicago arboretum

A blue-eyed cicada perches on a flower at the Morton Arboretum, Friday, May 24, 2024, in Lisle, Ill. (AP Photo/Erin Hooley)

Periodical cicadas emerge every 13 or 17 years. Only the 17-year brood is beginning to show so far in spots as far north as Lisle, where three different species are digging out of the ground, attaching to trees, shedding their exoskeleton and putting on a show.

rare blue-eyed cicada spotted during 2024 emergence at suburban chicago arboretum

A blue-eyed cicada is held inside an aquarium at the Morton Arboretum, Friday, May 24, 2024, in Lisle, Ill. (AP Photo/Erin Hooley)

“The appearance of them on the trees, just the sheer volume of them, looks like science fiction," Adams said. "It’s definitely something to see.”

rare blue-eyed cicada spotted during 2024 emergence at suburban chicago arboretum

A blue-eyed cicada perches on a flower at the Morton Arboretum, Friday, May 24, 2024, in Lisle, Ill. (AP Photo/Erin Hooley)

Erin Hooley, The Associated Press

rare blue-eyed cicada spotted during 2024 emergence at suburban chicago arboretum

A blue-eyed cicada perches on a flower at the Morton Arboretum, Friday, May 24, 2024, in Lisle, Ill. (AP Photo/Erin Hooley)

rare blue-eyed cicada spotted during 2024 emergence at suburban chicago arboretum

Plant Health Care Lead Stephanie Adams of the Morton Arboretum shows the female cicada's egg-laying ovipositor, which can damage young trees, Friday, May 24, 2024, in Lisle, Ill. (AP Photo/Erin Hooley)

rare blue-eyed cicada spotted during 2024 emergence at suburban chicago arboretum

Live cicadas swarm with exoskeletons at the Morton Arboretum, Friday, May 24, 2024, in Lisle, Ill. (AP Photo/Erin Hooley)

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