Cicada contests, events seek to celebrate and educate

On tree trunks, sidewalks, railings and the sides of buildings, the long-awaited 17-year periodical cicadas are finally out and about.

Those in the suburbs can take full advantage of the rare occurrence by participating in contests and events that teach about the insects and celebrate them.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is holding a cicada art contest, in which participants are encouraged to submit original artwork of their interpretation of cicadas. The artwork, which must be submitted by June 16, will have a chance to be featured at the Illinois State Fair in August.

The IDNR website specifies that entries must be on paper or canvas and must be no larger than 18 inches by 24 inches. The website also encourages entrants to put their own spin on the prompt and to be as “serious or silly as they want.”

A cicada photo contest in Western Cook County offers a $100 gift card to winners in three categories: most colorful picture; most cicadas in one picture; and best action shot.

The photos must be submitted by June 19, either by posting them to Instagram and tagging @visitoakpark, or by emailing the photo to To be eligible, a photo must have been taken at a Forest Preserves of Cook County location in or near one of the Western suburbs listed on the Visit Oak Park website.

Aside from contests and competitions, area forest preserve districts are celebrating the cicadas in a variety of ways. The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County is holding “Cicada Adventures” hikes on June 1 and June 6, while the Forest Preserve District of Kane County is holding a similar event on June 18.

Kane County Environmental Education Manager Barb McKittrick said the goal is for people to learn about the life cycle of cicadas and how to identify different species, and stressed the importance of the insects for the ecosystems of which they are a part.

On the Lake County Forest Preserves website, anyone can report their observations of cicadas to be added to an interactive map tracking the emergence across the area.

Director of Education Alyssa Firkus said the Lake County Forest Preserve District is leaning on the community to help collect data and to give a better understanding of where cicadas are located in the area. She said the hope is that in 17 years when this brood of cicadas emerges again, the district will have more accurate maps of their dispersion across the region.

Lake County Forest Preserves also is putting on a “CicadaFest” on June 9, which invites people of all ages to learn about the insects and to participate in activities such as insect collecting and a cicada search.

Other events by the district that seek to educate and excite the public about cicadas include an exhibit at the Dunne Museum in Libertyville, a cicada crafts and exploration event on June 29 and an online cicada trivia event for seniors in July.

“The important part for us is to really shift that fear that people have of cicadas,” Firkus said. “And to really kind of celebrate this as a natural phenomenon that happens only a few times in our lifetime.”

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.