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

Tracking Brood X cicadas in Pennsylvania and nationally
Image via Akihiko Nakano, 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, Cicada Safari creator and an entomologist at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati.

In anticipation of Brood X, Kritsky has been testing the app with smaller broods for the last 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 at Bloomberg.

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