Gene Kritsky is one of the leading periodical cicada researchers. He’s asked that we help with his research regarding temperature and cicada emergence. He needs to know the date that cicadas first emerge, and then the date when they appear in large numbers in a given locality. To contact Gene with your findings, email him at email@example.com.
Here are the details:
I wanted to alert you to a paper that I published with Roy after Brood XIV. I had placed sensors at cicada depths in Roy’s backyard, and also hung others in the area trees. We recorded the temperatures at 10 minute intervals at all the locations. I was trying to find a weather model to predict soil temperatures without using probes. This would be cheaper for people wanting to monitor an impending emergence. This research is based on what potato farmers do to track the growth of their crop.
We found that the average of the running three day and two day mean temperatures was a good predictor of soil temps.
The formula along with the extended forecast can be used to forecast soil temperatures. Once we get the 64Âº F soil temps and a nice rain we got emergences. I am hoping to test this model again this year, which in part is why I emailing you. What I need to know is the date that cicadas first emerge, and then the date when they appear in large numbers in a given locality. I will then use weather data to check the soil model. Can you ask readers to send me that info? Many thanks.
Crowdsourcing is the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers. Often used to subdivide tedious work or to fund-raise startup companies and charities, this process can occur both online and offline.
There are two prominent cicada crowdsourcing efforts you can take part in!
First, there is the Cicada Tracker project:
The group Radiolab is hoping you’ll build what they call a cicada tracker. A cicada tracker will measure the temperature of the soil and report that back to Radiolab, to help estimate the arrival of the cicadas. Here is a short video about the project:
Throughout April there will be events where you can get to together with other cicada enthusiasts, and build cicada trackers. See their website for more details.
Second, there is Cicadas @ UCONN (formerly Magicicada.org).
Cicadas @ UCONN (formerly Magicicada.org) is a website where you can report and map cicada emergences in your area. I strongly suggest that everyone visits that site to report their cicada sightings. Your reports will be used to build new and better maps of the periodical cicada populations in the U.S.A.
When you visit their site, look for this icon, click it and enter your report:
Information needed for the report include the location (GPS coordinates, or simple street address), and what you observed: was it a nymph or adult, how many were there, etc. I think they’ll even have a Google maps interface to help you locate your sighting.
White or Blue eyed Magicicada are very rare! Typically they have red or orange eyes. There was even an urban legend that scientists were offering a reward for white-eyed Magicicada (well, that was a legend, until Roy Troutman actually offered a reward in 2008). Aside from Blue or White-eyed Magicicada, you can find other colors like yellow eyes, and multicolored eyes.
Try this: Have a contest amongst your friends and family for who can find the most white, yellow and multicolor-eyed cicadas.
How do you get a male cicada to sing? Imitate a female cicada. Female cicadas don’t sing, but they do click their wings together to get a male cicada’s attention.
Try this: snap your fingers near cicadas almost immediately (half-second) after a Male stops singing. Male cicadas will hear the snap and think it’s a female clicking her wings, and they may sing in response.
You can also try imitating male cicada calls to get the females to click their wings. Magicicada tredecim and Magicicada neotredecim are probably the easiest to imitate with their “Waaah Ooh”/”WeeOoh” calls. You can find sound files on the Cicadas @ UCONN (formerly Magicicada.org) site so you can practice.
One of the best ways to locate cicadas is to simply listen for them. When you’re driving or biking around town, take note of where you hear cicadas. If you hear cicadas in a public place, don’t we afraid to stop and observe them.
Try this: Travel around listening for cicadas, document their location and numbers, and report them to magicicada.org.
Study the maps and other documentation of previous sightings
Network with friends to find out where they are
Drive with your windows open (so you can hear them)
Car pool to save gas (or use you bicycle)
Respect private property
Document the specific location. Some smart phones and GPS devices will give you the latitude and longitude coordinates, but street addresses and mile markers work fine as well.
Document: how many cicadas you saw, and what phase they were in (nymph, white teneral cicadas, live adults, deceased adults).
Document the cicadas: take photos, take video, share your experience on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, etc.
Report the your discovery to magicicada.org
Document the Cicada’s Life Cycle
(Works for most cicadas)
You can observe many phases and activities of a cicada’s life while they are above ground.
Try this: Photograph or film as many stages of a cicada’s life as possible, then create a slideshow or movie depicting the life of a cicada. Post your finished slideshow or movie on the web (YouTube?) so other people can enjoy it.
See the tiny cicada nymphs crawl around the branch and fall to the ground
Test Gene Kritsky’s Cicada Emergence Formula
Cicada researcher Gene Kritsky developed a cicada emergence formula to try to predict when the cicadas will emerge based on the mean temperature in April.
Try this: on May 1st, go to our cicada emergence formula page, follow the instructions and find out when the cicadas might emerge in your area. Document when the cicadas emerge in your area, and compare the results. Note whether the cicadas emerge in sunny or shady areas.
People ask: “what’s the best way to keep a cicada in captivity?” The answer depends on how long you plan on keeping the cicada, and how happy you want the cicada to be.
Wooden and plastic bug houses (“Bug Bungalows”, “Critter Cabins”, “Bug Jugs”, etc.) will suffice as temporary homes for cicadas. The classic jar with holes punched in the lid works too. Add a fresh branch for them to crawl on and drink fluids from (or at least try). Remember not to leave it in the sun so the cicadas inside don’t bake!
Butterfly Pavilions are collapsible containers made of netting that you can use to gather cicadas, and provide them with a temporary home. People also use Fish Aquariums to keep cicadas in their homes for extended periods of time — add plenty of vegetation for the cicadas to crawl around on and some water for the cicadas to sip.
Try this: get some flexible netting and wrap it around a branch on a tree, making sure not to leave any openings, then put your cicadas inside. Cicadas in this kind of enclosure will be more likely to sing and interact because life trees are their natural habitat.
You can also try wrapping netting around a small, potted maple tree.
Chris Simon a Professor, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology from the University of Connecticut asked us to post this on our site, and so we did.
If you have seen unusually large numbers of cicadas this year (or
last),and have not seen such numbers for a long time, can you please
report them to me? Chris dot Simon at UCONN dot edu? Please report
the location in which you saw the cicada, what month and year, how
long it has been since you have seen a similar emergence magnitude.
This seems to be an unusually good cicada year, maybe related to
unusually wet or otherwise favorable weather:
Dan Johnson from Southern Alberta, Canada reported an outbreak of
Okanagana synodica this year. He says: “I saw only a few between
1983 and 1985, then a few per year in 1986-88, then rare again, then
slightly more in 2000-2003, and only last year did they bloom, and
really with a bang (more than 1000X). My study area is southern
Alberta and Saskatchewan, mainly mixed grass sites in Alberta, plus
fescue foothills.” He had not seen an emergence like this in the 20
years he had worked there.
John Cooley reports Okanagana rimosa and canadensis as being very
dense this year in Northern Michigan and Dan Vanderpool reported that
an unidentified species of cicada was out in Northern Idaho that
residents noted they had never heard before (at least not in big
numbers) and one respondent had lived there for 30 years.
This record was from last year: Eric Toolson of New Mexico writes-
Last year, there was a widespread & heavy emergence of Tibicen
townsendii across a rather large area of central New Mexico
grassland. Prior to that, I knew of only one population in an area
of several hundred square miles, and that occupied an area of only
about 2 hectares. That population has been emerging in good numbers
for over a decade [in this location], but I never saw the species
anywhere else within a distance of several tens of miles in any
direction. I had formed the impression that although T. townsendii
was geographically widespread, its range was occupied by a relatively
few, widely-scattered, discrete populations that were failing to
occupy what seems to be a lot of contiguous suitable habitat.
Cicadas are known for their boom and bust years. It would be nice to
start keeping track of them.