Rare blue-eyed cicada spotted in Naperville

Photo of blue-eyed cicada in Laura Riordan's backyard
Donate Today

This spring, millions of cicadas have emerged in Naperville, but a local resident recently spotted one with a unique trait.

Naperville’s Laura Riordan discovered a blue-eyed cicada in her backyard this week, a mutation from the insect’s usual bright red eyes.

“We have a bunch of cicadas on our perennials,” said Riordan. “I was walking around and all of a sudden I’m like, ‘Oh, this guy looks different.’ At first I took a step back, like do I see what I’m really seeing?”

How rare is the blue-eyed cicada?

Plant Clinic Manager at The Morton Arboretum Spencer Campbell said it’s tough to determine how rare this variant is due to the massive scale of the cicada emergence. Scientists estimate there can be 1.5 million cicadas per acre in forestry areas.

“I’ve heard the term one in a million thrown out there,” said Campbell. “But I don’t think we’ve collected all of them to better understand how rare they actually are.”

Campbell mentioned two area residents have stopped by The Morton Arboretum this week to donate blue-eyed cicadas they found to research.

Blue-eyed cicadas behave no differently than red-eyed cicadas

Campbell emphasized the blue-eyed variant, just like its red-eyed friends, does not pose a danger to the public.

“There’s a great opportunity to study these insects, they don’t bite, they don’t sting,” said Campbell. “It’s a chance for folks to gamify it, make it a scavenger hunt where you look at these indicators up close.”

If you’re lucky enough to come across one of these blue-eyed bugs…

“The best thing to do is to take a photo, get it verified, and then release it back into the world because they want to complete their life cycle,” said Campbell.

And that’s just what Riordan did with her rare find.

“I sit there and I think, ‘Oh my gosh 17 years you’re underground and you’re out for four weeks. You’re gonna live and you live your good life,’” said Riordan.

If you have a story idea, we want to hear from you!