Cicadas are coming: App helps map where millions are emerging

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (NEXSTAR/WATE) — Here’s an app that’s meant to be a bit buggy.

With millions of cicadas reemerging after 17 years below ground, Cicada Safari is offering its users an opportunity to share photos of the noisy insects so their progression can be mapped.


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The app, created by Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, verifies the photos and posts the location to a live map showing other sightings across the eastern United States.

This year’s cicada invasion happens only once every 17 years. For almost two decades, they’ve been maturing underground, sucking sap from tree roots. Now millions of the insects are set to burst forth once the days are consistently 64 degrees or warmer for several weeks.

A cicada nymph moves in the grass, Sunday, May 2, 2021, in Frederick, Md. Within days, a couple weeks at most, the cicadas of Brood X (the X is the Roman numeral for 10) will emerge after 17 years underground. There are many broods of periodic cicadas that appear on rigid schedules in different years, but this is one of the largest and most noticeable. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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Cicadas by the 1,00s started emerging today despite the cool and wet weather.  This is from Maryville, TN. 
Cicadas by the 1,00s started emerging today despite the cool and wet weather.  This is from Maryville, TN. 

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(FILE Photo: WATE)
Jerome Grant, a professor of entomology at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, has a few suggestions of what to do with the 17-year cicadas that are coming our way. (Photo: UT Knoxville)

The Brood X is the biggest of the 17-year cicada broods, according to Cicada Safari, which says they occur in parts of 15 eastern states from Indiana to Georgia to New York.

The cicadas are set to start emerging in early May in the southern states, while southern Indiana and Ohio should see an emergence in mid-May. Northern Indiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey should see it a week later, according to Cicada Safari.


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You can find the free app on the Apple Store or on Google Play.

More on cicadas

While cicadas are poised to infest whole swaths of American backyards this summer, the red-eyed bugs offer a chance for home cooks to turn cicadas into snacks.

Full of protein, gluten-free, low-fat and low-carb, cicadas were used as a food source by Native Americans and are still eaten by humans in many countries.

Cicada nymphs appear on top of chocolate cookies at the home of University of Maryland entomologists Michael Raupp and Paula Shrewsbury in Columbia, Md. on May 17, 2021. The cookies are meant to depict the cicada nymph emerging from the dirt. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

But humans aren’t the only ones who find the bugs appetizing. The Washingtonian, a monthly magazine distributed in the Washington, D.C. area, reported that residents are being warned about possible rat infestations since the rodents find cicadas quite delicious.

Health officials warn against leaving food and garbage outside, and they urge residents to clear away yard clutter to help prevent rats from building nests.

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