Track Rare Cicadas With The Cicada Safari App

I am waiting for some bugs. My home in Pennsylvania is in the territory of the Brood VIII 17-year cicadas, which haven’t been seen above ground since 2002. This year, they’re due.

Periodical cicadas (Magicicada species) live underground as larvae for 17 or 13 years, depending on the species. When it’s time for them to produce the next generation, they emerge, molt, mate, and die within a furious few weeks. When it’s their year, the trees in an area are covered in giant bugs. This whole phenomenon is either gross or fascinating, depending on who you ask. (Okay, maybe it’s a little of both.) The emergence here is just beginning: there are none in my neighborhood yet, but friends from other parts of town have begun to post photos on social media.

A better way to track and document the cicadas in your area is to download the Cicada Safari app (free on Android and iOS) from Mount St. Joseph University. Right now, I can check a map for sightings, and as soon as my local cicadas begin to emerge, I can snap pictures of them for cicada scientists to study.

Even if you’re not in Brood VIII territory, sometimes cicadas get the time wrong and they’ll emerge a few years early or late. In the meantime, check the brood maps here, and see whether you can expect some rare visitors in another year.

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