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The Cicadas Are Coming. Here's How To Help Track Them

A Brood X cicada in 2004.

A photo of a Brood X cicada from 2004. (Sophia Frederika/Wikimedia Commons)

Millions of cicadas are about to make an appearance for the first time in 17 years, and researchers at Purdue University's Department of Entomology are asking for Hoosiers' help in tracking the noisy, flaky bugs as they emerge from the ground in the next few weeks.

Purdue will use iNaturalist, an app that tracks biodiversity data, to collect information about where and when Brood X cicadas will emerge.

Brood X (ten) is the largest group of 17-year periodical cicadas, and according to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, is expected to emerge across all of Indiana this spring.

Cicadas pose no inherent danger to humans or animals, but can cause significant damage to young trees - especially those between three and five years old.

Once they emerge from the ground, cicadas shed their exoskeletons and begin to mate. Male cicadas sing as part of the mating process, the volume of which can be quite loud.

Because Brood X emerges only once every 17 years, there simply isn't enough time - or scientists - to adequately track the cicadas' behavior while they're around. Purdue entomologists advise that if you are interested in tracking Brood X, you should download iNaturalist and keep an eye out for cicada shells at the edge of wooded areas near you.

Additionally, cicada enthusiasts can download Cicada Safari, another app that allows users to photograph and submit location data about adult Brood X cicadas to researchers at the Center for IT Engagement at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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