How to go on a ‘cicada safari’

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Scientists have been mapping periodical cicada populations for nearly two centuries, but now the Cicada Safari app is letting everyone in on the action.

Dr. Gene Kritsky, the Dean of the School of Behavioral and Natural Sciences at Mount St. Joseph University, says the Cicada Safari app has been downloaded 97,000 times. It’s revolutionizing how scientists map periodical cicada populations, including Brood X, which is emerging right now. 

“It’s very simple. It’s a free app that you can download. And once you get it, and you’ve logged in, you go on your own cicadas safari, and you want to go out in your yard, go on a walk, go to the parks. And what do you see a periodical cicada, you photograph it. And then, you submit the photograph to the app. And we have a team of specialists to look at every single photograph. If it’s a verified periodical cicada, it goes on our live map,” Dr. Kritsky said.


RELATED: The differences between periodical and annual cicadas

With today’s technology, populations can be identified down to the street level, and yes, Brood X cicadas have been identified through the app here in Middle Tennessee. 

“All the sightings that I’m getting from the greater Nashville area are coming north from Nashville, the sort of Northeast of Ashland city,” Dr. Kritsky said. “There are a couple of sightings up on 431, north of Interstate 24. And then there’s another couple over by Hendersonville northeast of Hendersonville.” 


SEE ALSO: 10 Things you may not know about Brood X Cicadas

According to Dr. Kritsky, Brood X cicadas are easy to identify.

“The periodical cicadas have red eyes, black bodies, and orange veined wings, and orange legs. They are smaller than annual cicadas,” Dr. Kritsky said. “And fortunately, right now, the annual cicadas haven’t really started coming out yet. So the ones we’re seeing are the periodicals.”

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