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17-Year Cicadas Are Emerging, and Scientists Are Asking You to Go on Cicada Safaris

Wildlife News
by Olivia Harden Apr 21, 2021

With a mating call of up to 100 decibels, swarms of billions of Brood X periodical cicadas will be hard to miss as they make their way through 15 states in the eastern US. Scientists are expecting the species to pop up this May — “across a dozen states⁠, stretching from Illinois to the west, Georgia to the south, and New York to the northeast,” NBC reported⁠ — and they are enlisting your help.

Billions of Brood X periodical cicadas come out every 17 years to mate, lay eggs, and die — all in the space of a few weeks.

Gene Kritsky, the dean of behavioral and natural sciences at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati and the author of Periodical Cicadas: The Brood X Edition, has created an app called Cicada Safari so everyday citizens can help document the emergence of the insects and their peculiar life cycle.

“Using citizen science to help map periodical cicadas goes back to the 1840s when Gideon B. Smith wrote newspaper articles asking readers to send him details of where they saw cicadas,” Kritsky told Entomology Today. “By the time of his death in 1867, he had documented all the known broods of cicadas.”

To participate, just download the free app. When you find one of the periodical cicadas, take a photo and upload it to the app. After the photos are verified, they will be posted to the live map.

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