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  • Lake Forest Open Lands

A Six-Year-Old Discovers a One-in-a-Million Cicada

By Lake Forest Open Lands During the Cicada Sensation program at a Lake Forest Open Lands (LFOLA) preserve recently, six-year-old Fritz Perkins turned to Julia Lunn. "He said, 'Miss Julia, look at the eyes on this cicada!'” recalled Lunn, director of engagement at LFOLA. There, on Fritz’s hand, was a blue-eyed cicada.

Fritz Perkins displays the rare cicada.

  Ironically enough, the night before, LFOLA hosted Conservation Cocktails, and the guest that evening was Jim Louderman, a collections assistant in the Gantz Family Collection Center, Insect Collections at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History. He spoke about the rarity of blue-eyed cicadas and the DNA testing the Field Museum is doing to further the research within the insect field. He encouraged those who found a blue-eyed cicada to reach out to the Field Museum. 


“Within 12 hours I had a scientist from the Field Museum talking about the rarity of this blue-eyed form to being in the actual field with a six-year-old with one in hand," Lunn said. "It was a dream.” 


Associate Curator of Entomology from the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Allen Lawrance, participated in LFOLA’s Cicada Sensation weekend. With guidance from both scientists, Fritz took the cicada to his Lake Forest home to observe for a couple of days. Once the cicada started slowing down, he was invited to hand deliver it to the Field Museum collections and DNA studies. Fritz was welcomed into the museum’s working spaces, behind the scenes where they prepare the collections. He was treated to a personalized tour of the insect collection from the largest bugs down to the smallest.

Fritz and Jim Louderman of The Field Museum check out a collection of insects.

“It was so cool to donate my discovery to science," Fritz said. "My favorite part is that it might travel around the world to other scientists and museums. It could even go to Antarctica!”



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