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Where are the swarms of cicadas?

For months, northern Illinois residents were warned about this summer's emergence of the periodic cicada. Stories circulated about how swarms of the insects - which emerge from the ground every 17 years to mate, lay eggs and die - would be everywhere. So where are they? In much of DeKalb County, the emergence seems to have come with more of a whimper than a bang. &#8220There are some that have emerged at MacQueen Forest Preserve about a week ago and some at Russell Woods (Forest Preserve), but it's not the millions and millions they've been predicting,” DeKalb County Forest Preserve District Superintendent Terry Hannan said. &#8220I know 17 years ago we hardly had any here either, but to the east they had them. So I think it's kind of spotty.” Peggy Doty, natural-resources educator with University of Illinois Extension, said the bugs have emerged, but they're not everywhere the way people expect. The cicadas are most likely to emerge in areas with lots of trees and where the ground has had minimal disturbance over the past 17 years, like forest preserves and cemeteries. &#8220There are pockets where there's a conglomeration of them,” she said. Because the insects have a short life span, Doty said, they are slow to spread, resulting in dense pockets in some areas and no bugs at all in others. She also speculated that an increased use of lawn chemicals over the past 17 years may have disturbed or destroyed some pockets. Doty said people who want to see the cicadas should visit Russell Woods Forest Preserve in Genoa and MacQueen Forest Preserve in Kirkland, where she said the creatures are abundant. &#8220(Last week) when we had that huge windstorm, my son and I were walking at MacQueen,” she said. &#8220I looked down, and I'm not kidding, the ground was shifting like a marsh.” Doty speculated that recent periods of wind and rain may help wake up the cicadas. Once they emerge, she said, they begin to travel up the first vertical surface they find - including a person. &#8220If you're standing still taking pictures, they'll climb up your legs. They don't bite - you just have to grab their body and move them to a tree.” Dana Herra can be reached at dherra@daily-chronicle. com.

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