As Brood X Cicadas Emerge, Volunteers Will Hop to the Task of Tracking Their Locations

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Tracking Brood X cicadas in Pennsylvania and nationally
Image via Akihiko Nakano at Creative Commons.

As Brood X cicadas emerge across Pennsylvania and the nation, thousands of volunteer trackers are ready to start mapping the rise, write Linda Poon and Marie Patino for Bloomberg.

Citizen scientists will use the mobile app Cicada Safari to add geotagged photos and videos directly onto a live map. These data will be verified by dozens of student researchers working behind the scenes.

Any videos will be particularly helpful this year as they will provide researchers with audio data as well, according to Gene Kritsky, an entomologist at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati and Cicada Safari creator.

In anticipation of Brood X, Kritsky has been testing the app with smaller broods for the past two years. Now he is ready for the big time. The 2021 emergence may be one of the largest, broadest broods. Once it fades, another study opportunity won’t surface for at least another decade-and-a-half.

“With the smartphone technology and the GPS location services, it was just a perfect way to do citizen science,” said Kritsky.

As of early May, around 87,000 people had signed up.

Read more about cicada-tracking efforts in Bloomberg.

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