Best of AP — Honorable Mention


Advanced planning, thorough reporting and extensive subject knowledge leads to AP wins on cicada invasion

A female periodical cicada makes slits in a tender branch with the egg-laying appendage called an ovipositor at Morton Arboretum on Thursday, June 6, 2024, in Lisle, Ill. The slits are to create egg nests that serve as the nursery for the cicada's developing eggs. AP PHOTO / CAROLYN KASTER

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As journalists who’ve closely followed cicadas for some time, Kaster and Borenstein knew that the 2024 cicada emergence was going to be the big one. Two cicada broods were set to emerge at the same time, converging in southern Illinois, in an event not seen for 221 years.

Kaster and Borenstein knew they had to produce coverage fit for the magnitude and the rarity of the event and set to work in early April, previewing the upcoming invasion and reporting on the weird and wonderful ways of the bug, alongside prepping every detail for the upcoming event.

Kaster even brought some early-emerging cicadas home so she’d be able to study them closely, take up close and personal portraits of the bugs and record their signature mating calls in her home studio. The resulting cicada closeups would become one of the unique stories.

As the double emergence began, Kaster and Borenstein chased cicadas by following updates from cicada watchers they had contacted throughout the reporting stage and using an app where enthusiasts post images. Their source work meant they were able to report on several unique and exclusive stories, including a person who’s photographed cicadas nearly 5,000 times since the emergence began, a 6-year-old who feeds them to her pet lizard, and a cicada burlesque show. On their trip, Borenstein managed to find a one-in-a-million blue-eyed cicada, which Kaster was able to capture.

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