Christen Jeschke, a children's book author with ties to the Ozarks, is the author of "Cicadas Don't Bug Me." (Photo: Submitted)

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A children's book author with ties to the Ozarks just published an updated edition of her book aimed to make the emergence of cicadas less scary for kids after a 13-year slumber in Missouri.

Christen Jeschke originally published the children's book “Cicadas Don't Bug Me” in 2021, just ahead of the of a cicada invasion in the eastern United States. She had just moved her family from Nixa to the Washington, D.C. area and tried to teach her young children about the insects in a fun and educational way.

It went horribly wrong.

“After I told them about the cicadas, they were terrified,” Jeschke said. “I always joke that they talked about fortifying the home and medieval weaponry was involved.”

“They were very scared and I just thought, ‘Oh no, I have failed them terribly.' I wanted them to be curious and to be interested, and not come away with fear.”

Jeschke set out to write a book about cicadas that would inform children of the creatures, so kids across the world could feel safe whenever the insects emerged from the ground after years of slumber. She didn't want any children to respond to cicadas with fear the way her children had.

“There are other families and children experiencing the same thing,” Jeschke said. “I want children to know that they do not need to be afraid of the cicadas. That they can look at them with wonder and not worry, or fascination instead of fear.”

The rhyming children's book was a hit, reaching best-seller status on Amazon multiple times and was even featured in Barnes and Noble stores across the country. In fact, the during the Brood X invasion in 2021, the book sold more than 5,000 copies in 30 days, Jeschke said.

Science to go with the rhymes and illustrations

The books focuses on interesting cicada facts, explaining the insects' habits and features in a rhyming fashion. Many pages are adorned with a ‘Did You Know' box that highlights various helpful information on cicadas.

“The song of the cicada is loud, like a screech. The male signals a mate just out of reach. The female answers back with a trill of her wings, all through the day, the mating call sings,” the children's book reads.

Jeschke just published a second edition of “Cicadas Don't Bug Me,” complete with updated images of periodical cicadas, like the ones set to emerge in Missouri within weeks after a 13-year slumber. Specifically, billions of a new generation of Brood 19 cicadas will emerge in the coming weeks in a 15-state area concentrated in Missouri and Illinois.

“Cicadas Don't Bug Me” is available wherever books are sold, Jeschke said. On Amazon, a paperback version costs $10.29, while a hardcover sells for $20.99. The book is also carried by many small, independent bookstores across the Midwest.

A life-long fascination with slumbering insects

Christen Jeschke, who lived in Nixa for 15 years, is the author of “Cicadas Don't Bug Me.” (Photo: Submitted)

Jeschke's captivation with cicadas started nearly 40 years ago, when she had just finished kindergarten in northern Virginia.

“In 1987, I was six years old when I first experienced cicadas,” Jeschke said. ‘I always say it was like a biblical plague of cicadas. They were just everywhere. I'd never seen or experienced anything like that.”

Jeschke's said she reacted to the cicadas with wonder and curiosity, and she immediately wanted to learn more about the insects. Her older sister, Katherine Craddock, responded, like Jeschke's own children, with an extreme amount of fear.

“She was terrified and barricaded herself in our house and didn’t come outside for like six weeks or until they were all gone,” Jeschke said.

The incident has become a lifelong joke between the sisters. Jeschke even dedicated “Cicadas Don't Bug Me” to her sister. One of the first pages in the book reads “To my sister, Katherine Craddock, whose feelings for cicadas inspired me to write this book.”

The family joke that turned public in the first page of the book is a sign of love between the sisters, she said.

“She hates cicadas. Hate is probably an understatement,” Jeschke said. “I just thought what a better way to love my sister than to troll her by writing a book dedicated to her that is about cicadas.”

New edition to highlight periodical cicadas that will emerge soon in the Ozarks

This spring, two broods of cicadas will emerge together in northeast Missouri and neighboring states. While Brood 19 will be in Missouri and Illinois, southern Iowa, and Southern states from Arkansas to Virginia, Brood 13 will emerge in northern Illinois and Indiana, southern Michigan, and eastern Iowa, according to past Hauxeda reporting.

“As a general rule, they typically emerge by mid-May,” Jeschke said. “In the next two weeks, you should start seeing them come out of the soil.”

The 2024 cicada event will mark the first time the broods have appeared together since 1803, when Thomas Jefferson was president. Jeschke said she knew she had to get an updated edition of the book out in time for this emergence, which should happen at any point in the coming weeks when soil 8 inches below ground-level reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit.

Christen Jeschke is the author of “Cicadas Don't Bug Me.” (Photo: Submitted)

The new edition of the book is updated with pictures of periodical cicadas that readers will find in the wild this spring. The author expects to sell more than 10,000 copies during this emergence, she said.

“What's special about this edition is that there are more pictures of the very-specific types of cicadas you'll be seeing during this emergence,” Jeschke said. “We wanted to update the book so children would know what to expect.”

These periodical cicadas set to emerge are different than regular cicadas, Jeschke said. Regular cicadas are green and black and bigger than the periodical insects that are about to emerge.

“These (cicadas) are different,” Jeschke said. “They have these beautiful red eyes and are less than two inches long.”

From 2004 to 2019, the author lived in Nixa. She moved to Washington, D.C. to pursue a job opportunity in publishing, she said. Jeschke raised her children in the Missouri Ozarks and the region has always had a special place in her heart.

“I do have a special connection with the Ozarks,” Jeschke said. “So it's fun to have that hometown-area be able to benefit from this book.”

The next steps for Jeschke will include lining up school visits to talk to young students about the emergence of cicadas this spring. Jeschke said she will stay busy, but it's one of her favorite experiences.

“Children tend to have amazing questions,” Jeschke said. “They are so curious and they ask things with such great detail that adults don't even think of.”


Ryan Collins

Ryan Collins is the business and economic development reporter for the Hauxeda. Collins graduated from Glendale High School in 2011 before studying journalism and economics at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He previously worked for Bloomberg News. Contact him at (417) 849-2570 or More by Ryan Collins