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Illinois man’s Facebook group about cicadas gains 34,000 members

PARK RIDGE — They’re outside, crawling around, and according to one Park Ridge man, they taste like boiled asparagus.

That’s one of the messages Joel Reiser of Park Ridge is spreading about cicadas in his public Facebook group, Illinois Cicada Watch. He said the group was intended for his friends and family, but has now amassed more than 34,000 members, according to a review of the page on Wednesday.

“It was really cool and stuff, and then all of a sudden he started getting more followers. People shared and I got more and more (followers),” she told Pioneer Press.

Reiser, who describes himself as an outdoorsman, said the group has grown to spread information about the creatures, with millions expected to come out this summer.

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“We let everyone be there because, you know, we want everyone to learn not to be afraid of something that just…commonly happens every 17 years,” he said.

“It’s a phenomenon, like everything else,” Reiser said, comparing it to the solar eclipse that was also visible to some extent in most of the state.







A Brood XIII cicada in the Beverly neighborhood on Saturday, May 18, 2024 in Chicago.  Cicadas populate trees, plants and grasses throughout the neighborhood.

A Brood XIII cicada in the Beverly neighborhood on Saturday, May 18, 2024 in Chicago. Cicadas populate trees, plants and grasses throughout the neighborhood.


John J. Kim, Chicago Tribune


“They have taken more than 200 years to develop,” he added, referring to the moment when two hatchlings of cicadas, hatchlings XIX and XIII, are emerging at the same time.

Still, Chicago and most of its suburbs won’t be able to see both generations at the same time, and most of the overlap will occur in central Illinois.

Reiser said he has eaten cicadas and they have a nutty flavor when blanched and fried.

“It’s strange; “It’s accepted all over the world, except here,” he said, adding that in Mexico he has eaten grasshoppers, or grasshoppers, “which taste like dirt.”

He said cicada hunters will want to find cicadas in the early stages of life.

“There’s nothing to fear,” Reiser said. “They don’t bite and there’s nothing toxic.”

Cicadas also belong to the same category of animals as many shellfish, such as lobster and shrimp, meaning that if a person has an allergy to any of them, they probably should not eat them.

As for people who might still be afraid of them, Reiser said cicadas are good for gardens because they provide nutrients from the soil. “It’s best to leave them alone,” he said.